On this day...
May 4, 1886
In a suburb of Chicago, IL a peaceful demonstration was being held by over one thousand workers who were protesting against the death of a co-worker, striking, by the Chicago police only a day before.
The rally had thinned out quite a bit due to rain, and thank goodness because midway through the rally, the Chicago police were sent to encourage the rally to desist. Around 200 officers were armed, heading for the less than half group that were still in the square. Then, out of nowhere, a bomb was tossed into the mix.
To this day, no one has been identified to the bomb toss, but the damage was, of course, deadly.
In response, police fired in the direction of the bomb's origin haphazzardly and when the smoke cleared, more than a dozen workers lay dead on the streets of Haymarket Square. Nearly 100 others were severely injured.
At Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, a bomb is thrown at a squad of policemen attempting to break up what had begun as a peaceful labor rally. The police responded with wild gunfire, killing several people in the crowd and injuring dozens more.
The protests were put together by German-born immigrants which set off a wave of racial and prejudicial fears against foreigners. Chicago went about rounding up the immigrants that were believed to be the radicals and labor leaders and put them behind bars.
A grand jury indicted 31 suspected labor radicals in connection with the bombing. Eight, were convicted.
The judge, Joseph E. Gary sentenced seven men to death and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
One prisoner took his own life the night before the scheduled execution. and on November 11, 1887, 4 were executed.
The two remaining had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment by Governor Richard J. Oglesby who acted due to the pressure from the public opinion that the eight were not given a fair trial.
Eventually, Governor John P. Altgeld, would give the last three activists still living a full pardon in 1893.
Apparently, there were no consequences to the police officers that fired into the crowd... that I could find.
Oddly enough on this very same date almost 90 years later... in 1970.
After days of what started as peaceful protests against American participation in the Vietnam War, they turned violent. Students from the Kent State University began setting fires and busting windows of local businesses.
By the time the National Guardsmen were called in, the crowds that gathered were in the 3,000s. They were dispersed with tear gas but would reconvene the next day increasing their numbers. The students didn't appear to have weapons and some in the thousands were merely spectators.
At a pivotal moment in history, the National Guard managed to scatter the crowds using tear gas, diffusing the group, but for an unknown, still debated reason, 28 National Guardsmen fired their weapons. Some fired into the air and some fired directly.
The result were four students dead, eight wounded and one permanently paralyzed.
A History Blog
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