Film airing on PBS recalls city's dark deportation history

This undated photo provided by 4th Row Films shows striking miners being loaded in rail cars in "Bisbee '17," a story of how some 1,200 miners, most of them immigrants, were pulled violently from their homes in Bisbee, Ariz., by a private police force and put on cattle cars for deportation to a desolate area of New Mexico in 1917. The dark history of Bisbee was largely an open secret for decades in the funky old copper town just seven miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It's the sixth film of director Robert Greene, who said he learned about the town southeastern Arizona around 15 years ago. (Jarred Alterman/4th Row Films via AP)

The dark and violent history of Bisbee, Arizona, was largely an open secret for decades in the funky old copper town just 7 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border

BISBEE, Ariz. — The darkest, most violent chapter in the history of Bisbee was an open secret for decades in the funky old Arizona copper town 7 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

But few residents knew the details of how about 1,200 miners, most of them immigrants, were pulled violently from their homes a century ago by a private police force and put on cattle cars for their deportation to a desolate area of New Mexico.

The filming of "Bisbee '17," a documentary about what happened July 12, 1917, was a history lesson for residents recruited to play historical figures in the production that weds documentary and collective performance. It is, at turns, a Western, a musical and a ghost story.

"Bisbee '17" will be nationally broadcast for the first time Monday night on the PBS documentary series POV. In Arizona, it will be shown at 9 p.m.

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