Friday, March 02, 2007

Haymaket Memorial

I am currently sitting in the Chicago Airport due to the incredible efficiency of our airlines. The good news is that I was able to get to visit the Haymarket Memorial today during lunch. It was rather difficult as I was not able to find the address of the memorial even after calling the Chicago Historical Society and Chicago Cultural Affairs Office.

Thanks to a few bloggers and the Illinois Labor Historical Society I was able to find it and fortunately it was within walking distance of my Oracle training facility. The memorial is a few paces north of the intersection of W Randolf St. and N Desplaines St. about three blocks west of the Theater District.

Haymarket is memorialized internationally during May Day, also know as International Labor Day. A description of the tragic event follows:
On May 3, 1886, violence erupted at the McCormick Reaper Works during an assembly of strikers. That evening a small group of anarchists met to plan a rally the next day in response to the McCormick incident.

The rally began about 8:30 p.m. May 4 at the Haymarket, a site on Randolph between Halsted and Des Plaines Street, but due to low attendance it was moved a half block away to Des Plaines Street north of Randolph Street. After 10 p.m., as the rally drew to a close, 176 policemen led by Inspector John Bonfield moved in demanding immediate dispersal of the remaining 200 workers. Suddenly a bomb exploded. In the chaos that followed shots were fired by police and perhaps by workers. One police officer was killed by the bomb, six officers died later and sixty others were injured. No official count was made of civilian deaths or injuries probably because friends and/or relatives carried them off immediately. Medical evidence later showed that most of the injuries suffered by the police were caused by their own bullets.

All well known anarchists and socialists were rounded up and arrested in the days following the riot. Thirty one of them were named in criminal indictments and eight held for trial.

Although the bomb thrower has never been identified the eight indicted men were convicted by a court which held that the "inflammatory speeches and publications" of these eight incited the actions of the mob. The Illinois and U.S. Supreme Courts upheld the verdict.

On November 11, 1887 four of the accused were hanged. One committed suicide in jail, two had their sentences commuted to life in prison and one remained in prison even though there was no case against him. [See photo.]

After John P. Altgeld became Governor in 1893, the petitions for pardon that had been presented to and refused by his predecessor Richard Oglesby, were again introduced. After a careful review of the case Altgeld granted a full pardon on June 26, 1893. In his remarks he claimed the jury was selected to convict and the judge so prejudiced against the defendants that a fair trial was impossible.1
The monument standing there today (pictured with yours truly) is not the original monument. A statue was dedicated on the site in the 1890s. The statue was attacked by vandals many times and even blown up on several occasions. Mayor Daley in 1970 even had a 24/7 police watch established to guard the statue. Today it stands within the Chicago Police Academy and can only be seen by appointment.

Nevertheless, it is very easy to visit the memorial currently standing on N Desplaines St. Below is a map showing the exact location. I'll upload more pictures over the weekend.

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