[lbo-talk] how we celebrate May Day in the US

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Tue May 1 16:13:28 PDT 2007

On May 1, 2007, at 7:04 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:

> Some Weather people did blow up the statue once, but I think it has
> been rebuilt.

You mean the statue of the cop? Here's what Wikipedia says:

Haymarket Square in the aftermath

In 1889 a commemorative nine-foot bronze statue of a Chicago policeman by sculptor Johannes Gelert was erected in the middle of Haymarket Square with private funds raised by the Union League Club of Chicago. On the 41st anniversary of the riot, May 4, 1927, a streetcar jumped its tracks and crashed into the monument (statements made by the driver suggested this may have been deliberate).

The city moved it to nearby Lincoln Park. During the early 1960s, freeway construction erased about half of the old, run down market square and the statue was moved back to a spot on a newly built outcropping overlooking the freeway, near its original location. In October 1969 it was blown up, repaired by the city and blown up again a year later, reportedly by the Weather Underground.

Mayor Richard J. Daley placed a 24-hour police guard around the statue for two years before it was moved to the enclosed courtyard of Chicago Police academy in 1972. The statue's empty, graffiti-marked pedestal stood in the desolate remains of Haymarket Square for another three decades, where it was known as an anarchist landmark.

In 1985, scholars doing research for a possible centennial commemoration of the riot were surprised to learn that most of the primary source documentation relating to the incident was not in Chicago, but had been transferred to then-communist East Berlin.

In 1992 the site of the speakers' wagon was marked by a bronze plaque set into the sidewalk, reading:

A decade of strife between labor and industry culminated here in a confrontation that resulted in the tragic death of both workers and policemen. On May 4, 1886, spectators at a labor rally had gathered around the mouth of Crane's Alley. A contingent of police approaching on Des Plaines Street were met by a bomb thrown from just south of the alley. The resultant trial of eight activists gained worldwide attention for the labor movement, and initiated the tradition of "May Day" labor rallies in many cities.

Designated on March 25, 1992 Richard M. Daley, Mayor

On September 14, 2004, after 118 years of what some observers called civic amnesia, Daley and union leaders unveiled a monument by Chicago artist Mary Brogger, a fifteen-foot speakers' wagon sculpture echoing the wagon on which the labor leaders stood in Haymarket Square to champion the eight-hour day. The bronze sculpture, centerpiece of a proposed "Labor Park" there, is meant to symbolize both the assembly at Haymarket and free speech. The planned site was to include an international commemoration wall, sidewalk plaques, a cultural pylon, seating area and banners but a year later work had not yet begun.

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