We Remember The Haymarket Eight

Haymarket Square Riot: May 4, 1886


A rally at Haymarket Square was organized by labor activists to protest the killing and wounding of several workers by the Chicago police during a strike the day before at the McCormick Reaper Works.


Near the end of the day, a group of policemen arrived to disperse the crowd. When the police advanced, a, never identified, individual threw a bomb at them. Gunfire and chaos ensued, resulting in seven police officers and at least one civilian’s death, and an untold number of others.


The riot set off national xenophobia, hundreds foreign-born radicals and labor organizers were detained by police in Chicago and other cities around the country. Four months later eight men, labeled as anarchists, were convicted and sentences by Judge Joseph E. Gary. In his decision, he imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and one was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On November 11, 1887, four of the men were hanged.


Of the other 3 who were sentenced to death, one committed suicide – on the eve of his execution, and two had their sentences reduced to life in prison by Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby. His successor, Governor John P. Altgeld, pardoned the three activists still living in 1893.


Today, all eight men are – rightfully – revered as martyrs.


From TEAM Workin 4 A Livin – Caucus

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