Haymarket: The Struggle Continues

Monday, May 01, 2006

Haymarket: The Struggle Continues

It was 120 years ago that anarchists and labor organizers were joining together to fight for the eight-hour work day. That movement was largely built by immigrants.

On May 1st, 1886, a series of massive strikes were called and hundreds of thousands of workers poured out of the factories demanding shorter working hours.

If we want to learn anything from those who came before us, we'd do well to remember their sacrifice. Workers were locked out of their jobs. Eight anarchists–the Haymarket 8–were sentenced to death largely for things they said, not for what they did. In short it was a violent and dangerous time to stand up to the capitalist system.

On May 4, 1886 a town meeting was called in Chicago's Haymarket Square by anarchists and labor activists. As the peaceful assembly came to a close, 180 police officers stormed the meeting, demanding it disburse. Suddenly an unknown assailant threw a bomb into the crowd killing a police officer and injuring several others. The police responded instantly by shooting and clubbing wildly into the crowd, killing 7 other fellow police officers, injuring 60 more and killing and injuring an unknown number of civillians at the meeting. This event, and the episode that followed in its wake, known as the Haymarket affair, the Haymarket massacre or the Haymarket tragedy, is the single historic event for which Lucy Parsons is best remembered.

While today's boycott is a great step in the right direction, eventually we will have to make sacrifices. We will have to make things uncomfortable for those in power. Thankfully we face far less brutality and oppression than our ancestors did. Si se puede!


Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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