Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Haymarket Square Riot

On a cloudy May 3rd in 1886, six thousand men gathered outside of the International Harvest Plant in Chicago. Being outraged at being replaced by strikebreakers once a shift change occurred, and the men were in a face-to-face with their replacements, the riot began. The strikebreakers were attacked and in turn private guards hired by McCormicks Harvest Plant attacked the strikers. Locked in the battle over an 8 hour workday two men were killed by the guards bearing clubs and pistols.
REVENGE. That was all that was on the minds of the strikers at this point. They regrouped and vowed that the very next day, May 4th in Haymarket square, they would behave and not raise a raucous. The 1,500 men that showed simply came and listened to the speakers talk of socialism and anarchism with no action. The Mayor, Carter Harrison even stopped by and confirmed that the group was no trouble.
Then the rain came and only 300 men remained, as well as the final speaker. In a burst of power and hysteria, 150 Chicago policemen barged into Haymarket square and told everyone to leave, they didn't have to go home but they had to get the heck out of Haymarket Square.
BOOM! That was the next sound that all heard. It was a bomb thrown into the midst of the policemen. All at once panic hit and the policemen fired into the crowd, workers fled and 7 policemen died and 60, yes 60 were wounded. The workers death toll remains unknown for fear that they would have been reported to the police.
From REVENGE to BOOM to JUSTICE the chain reaction of events that made up the Haymarket Square Riot was documented by newspapers across the East Coast. Fear of law and order disintegrating took over and labor unions became a thing of the past. But that didn't mean the Chicago police force had to let the incident die...

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