November 11th: Remembering the Haymarket Martyrs

Haymarket MartyrsFrom

by X341968

In the city of Chicago on the evening of May 4th 1886, a protest meeting was held in the Haymarket Square. The meeting was organized by the anarchist community to protest the murder and wounding of several workers by the Chicago police the day before. The murdered men had been protesting outside the Mc Cormick Reaper Factory, from which they had been locked out by the owners. As some scabs were leaving the factory a confrontation occurred involving fighting and rock throwing. The police attacked the locked out workers first with clubs and then with revolvers. August Spies a militant anarchist labor agitator witnessed the shootings, became infuriated and wrote up a circular calling for “Workingmen to Arms.” A compositor unknown to Spies added the word, “Revenge!” so the circular read, “Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!!!” The evening of May 3rd at Greif’s saloon on West Lake Street, at a gathering of German anarchists, it was decided to hold the protest in the Haymarket Square the following evening at 7:30 pm.

The meeting was not well attended, the sponsors had hoped for a crowd of 20,000 and only 4,000 at best had showed up. The meeting got started late and was attended by none other than Chicago’s mayor Harrison. After listening to most of the speakers the mayor informed his police captain Bonefield he could dismiss most of his forces. Bonefield insisted on keeping his main force of men assembled at the police station only a block away for fear the meeting was only a diversion for some other violent activity. By ten o’clock a storm was blowing in and the crowd was down to only a few hundred listeners as Samuel Fielden was finishing up his speech. Having been informed by one of the many undercover officers in the crowd that Fielden had urged the crowd to “throttle the law,” captain Bonefield marched his police force into the crowd and demanded they disperse. Fielden pleaded “but we are peaceful” and anyway he was just finishing up, he started to climb down from the wagon that was being used as a stage for the speakers. Just then someone (nobody knows to this day who) threw a bomb into the ranks of the police. What ensued was a police riot in which many civilians and several police were shot dead and wounded.

As a result of the bombing eight anarchists, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe, George Engel, Adolph Fischer and Louis Lingg, were arrested, tried and convicted of murder…

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One Response

  1. […] ROOTS: Sounds like there maybe an “Occupy the World” action plan shaping for Nov 11; perhaps a renewed message of global solidarity reminiscent of the massive worldwide strikes that followed the Haymarket Affair of 1886? […]

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