May Day, The Haymarket Riots & International Labor’s Chicago Roots

With Chicago sitting in heart the nation, and literally being the den of progressive darkness, is it any wonder that it is also known as the birthplace of the international labor and worker’s rights movement? If you were not aware of this, don’t worry, neither were we. And neither are most Chicagoans. But the truth is, the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago is credited as the place where it all began.

To most, May Day represents the victorious struggle for the eight hour work day. However, there is a deeper history to the international holiday. Striking workers marched all across the country on May 1st, 1886, and it was declared as the eight hour work day by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. But in Chicago protests escalated on May 3rd, at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. plant, as workers rushed the gates to confront strikebreakers. This lead to a police shooting of two protesters. At another protest the following day at the Haymarket Square, May 4th, 1886, an “unknown” suspect threw a pipe bomb at the police, resulting in an explosion, chaos and gunfire. Eight police officers were killed, sixty were injured and at least four workers were killed, and a number of other civilians were injured.

Albert Parsons, an anarchist and militant activist who lead an 80,000 person march down Michigan Ave. with his wife Lucy, was one of eight anarchists who were all directly or indirectly connected to the bombing, and tried and convicted in the incident. Seven of the men were sentenced to death, which sparked an international outcry, and movement declaring these men as martyrs to the workers of the world’s “never ending struggle.”

This past May Day marks the 125th anniversary of the “Haymarket Affair,” which was celebrated in downtown Chicago, on April 30th, with a full scale reenactment, where the riot actually took place in 1886. Labor leaders and anti-capitalist activists were also on hand for some disturbing speeches prior the reenactment. We would also like to point out, that we did not see any American flags at the event.

On Sunday May 1st, May Day was celebrated at the historic Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, IL just west of the city. More than a thousand people were in attendance for the unveiling of the newly restored Haymarket Martyr’s Monument. National and international labor leaders were on hand here as well. Watch our coverage and see if you find the labor movement’s message as disturbing and alarming as we do. We should note that we did see one American flag here, but it was not flown as high as the Soviet/Che flag by the Communist Party U.S.A. members that were in attendance.

With the recurring theme of every left wing, and labor union protest we have been to this year, being “We Are One,” it is becoming clear, labor unions have made no effort to distance themselves from extreme left wing organizations such as the CPUSA, the IWW, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and many others who want to destroy the United State of America. We therefore believe it is now undeniable that they welcome those same anti-Capitalist, anti-American views, of those that they claim to be “one” with.

  22 comments for “May Day, The Haymarket Riots & International Labor’s Chicago Roots

  1. Jason
    May 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    This is just another hack job by the Teabaggers. Always taking everything out of context. Long Live the Unions!!!

    • tw mcd
      May 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Well the way unions are driving jobs out of the country, killing the once great American work ethic and pouring billions of dues into progressive/Democratic political campaigns, there wont be much of a country left for the unions to “Long Live” in.

    • cjk
      May 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      Teabaggers? You must be a teabagee then. Lay down, close your eyes, open your mouth wide, and say ahh.
      If you’re a real good boy, I’m sure some of your leftie buddies will even toss you a pearl necklace too.

  2. Trialdog
    May 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Just another comment by a no nothing troll. Always in the dark about history. Crush the unions.

    • Trialdog
      May 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      *know

      Sorry.

  3. I am a rock
    May 10, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Dig it..and then…Napoleon and the Bonyparts sing the Marseillaise…Allons enfants…allons….allons…move on…children…allons-y! Nothing to see here…see it maybe… in Haiti…Toujours… L’Envie, pere de pays. Please forgive…the wave of socialistic machismo overwhelmed me…like the perfumed smell of expensive gasoline….spilled on your food ration card… one that you will soon have to use to shop at your EPA approved local supermarket. The one I will pick for you so you could cart your groceries home if the gas line was too long. Let’s all sing a new song…”Allons enfant de la…. currency…and with our bank notes….we pay our bills…toujours…toujours…always…de-base-e-ment. (see the story of Bolivia and the Liberale’s…You-Tube)

  4. Adirondack Patriot
    May 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Unions are nothing more than losers who couldn’t get a job on their own, so they kiss the union bosses asses for the “right” to do crappy work and get job protection for it.

    They have been brainwashed and indoctrinated, and are too stupid to realize that they are exploited by the union bosses more than any 19th century industrialist could have ever imagined.

    Pathetic.

    • Carol Hillman
      May 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      Thank you for that completely unbiased report on unions. If you want to go back to six day workweeks with twelve hour workdays, be my guest. I, however, do not want to do this!

  5. Lefty
    May 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Folks, thanks for the video, looks like everyone there had a good time. Sorry I missed it — my great grandfather is under that monument. Your description of the events of the Haymarket riot are not entirely correct. First off, you say these men were “directly or indirectly” connected to the bomb thrower. Since the bomber was never known, how can this possibly be known? It is possible the real bomber was exposed in his diary many years later but we still don’t know. (And if that was the guy – he had no connection to the men tried and hanged for it.) The men convicted were publishers of a pro-union newspaper so perhaps that alone makes them criminals in your book. Secondly, at the time of the explosion, it was very late and very dark, approx. 10pm. Most of the workers had already gone home after hours of windy (and probably boring) speeches. The last speaker was almost finished when the police, for reasons that remain unknow, marched in in large numbers and told everyone to go home. The speaker on the wagon said OK and told everyone to go home. At that moment, the bomb exploded. The police opened fire in the darkness in all directions and probably killed a number of their fellow policemen by mistake in addition to several bystanders. (Nobody present other than the police where ever found with guns on them, although it is possible they had them and got away.) The aftermath of this event was that big business and their friends in the media — the Chicago Tribune was the Fox News of its day — made sure that in most people’s minds, “Union” = “Anarchist” = “Wild Eyed Man with crazy beard & round bomb with burning fuse”. The end result was that bomb in Haymwark Square set the Union movement back 25 years in the US. And for those of you who write “crush the unions,” I guess you would like working 10 hours/day (or perhaps 12), 6 days/week. And to work those hours for just enough money to keep you alive… for now. We don’t have the 40-hour work week because business owners thought it was a good idea. The very idea of a “weekend” is something we all owe to the Unions. I am not going to stand behind every union action or looney thing said by every lefty. Every point of view has it loons. (The Tea Part has its share if what we see on television is anything to go by.) If you really want to know the story of that day and what lead up to it and what happened because of it, I would recommend “Death in the Haymarket”, which is a good historical look at it and not a lefty or right wing version of it. And I think anyone would have to give credit to Albert Parsons — he left for Wisconsin after the “riot” but when he heard that he was one of the suspects and his co-publishers of the newspaper had been arrested, he returned to Chicago and walked into the courtroom under his own steam on the first day of the trial and sat down at the defendant’s table on his own. The courtroom was astonished. He stated at the time he had “nothing to fear from American Justice.” Given that the jury was picked in advance to convict, (one of the jurors was a cousin to one of the Policemen who were killed), the judge would not allow most of their defense, and they were convicted and he was hanged, he may have had cause to rethink that idea. In 1893, some seven years after their arrest, the last 3 of the 8 were given full pardons by Gov. Altgeld, resulting in (a) the release of my great-grandfather (and thus my being here to type this today) and (b) the complete destruction of the political career of Gov. Altgeld. Lastly, it is pretty clear that all of the Right Wing business today about union busting is directly tied to the fact that the Unions are one of the largest suppliers of election contributions to Democrats. Given the HUGE money unleashed by the insane Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that has allowed billionaires to fund masive pro-Republican front groups (where does Karl Rove get his money? And why does it have to be such a big secret?), they now want to undermine the only groups spending money on the left. And the truth is, Unions have been largely busted in this country now. Only public service unions remain in any real force. Union membership is way down from what it was and as manufacturing jobs go overseas, they are not likely to recover. So if you think Unions are the cause of all that is evil, be of good cheer – your point of view is winning big these days.

    • May 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Hear hear!

      • Carol Hillman
        May 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm

        BRAVO! Additionally, some thought that perhaps the person who threw the bomb was an “agent provacateur,” namely a police plant! Of course nobody knows but, then, nobody can say an anarchist threw the bomb and it is unlikely an anarchist DID throw the bomb into the crowd!

  6. May 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Excellent post. Check out my report on the May Day march in Los Angeles:

    http://www.ringospictures.com/index.php?page=20110501

  7. Carol Hillman
    May 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Actually, there never was a proven connection between the bomber who remains unknown and the eight anarchists. Albert Parsons was right when he noted that the anarchists on trial were being tried because of their beliefs. The Haymarket rally was a legal and peace3ful gathering. The Chicago Mayor, Carter Harrison, had issued a permit for this gathering. As soon as the mayor left Haymarket Square, the police returned and told the people at the rally to disperse. The police had NO REASON to disperse a peaceful lawful gathering!

  8. PVBella
    May 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    There was a Haymarket statue honoring the Police Officers killed. It was moved during the 1960s because protesters kept defacing it. When it was put back in place labor radicals defaced it and it was put back at the Police Academy.

    Funny no one defaces that garbage monument to murderers and anarchists on Des Plaines.

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