An anarchist May Day April 30, 2007Posted by Andreas in anarchism, History, Politics, Work.
The 1st of May is celebrated as worker’s day in most countries around the world, but few people are aware of the fact that the tradition began in commemoration of four anarchist trade unionists executed in the United States.
On the evening of May 3 1884, a rally was held in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, a busy commercial centre at the time, as part of a nationwide campaign for an eight-hour working week. The event and speeches were calm and orderly until police attempted to disperse the assembled workers.
A bomb was thrown towards the advancing police, killing a policeman by the name of Mathias J. Degan .
The police opened fire immediately and in the fighting that ensued seven more policemen and at least four workers were killed and many more injured.
The bomb-thrower was never found, but eight men (August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Oscar Neebe) connected directly or indirectly with the rally and its anarchist organisers were charged with Degan’s murder.
The trial, which is often described by legal experts as one of the worst cases of miscarriage of justice in United States history, resulted in a 15 year jail sentence for Neebe and the death penalty for the other seven.
Fielden and Schwab’s sentences were subsequently commuted to life in prison and Lingg committed suicide on the eve of his scheduled execution.
Spies, Parsons, Fischer and Engel were hanged on November 11 1887.