The Origin of International Workers' Day

May first is often called May Day for various reasons, but it is also International Workers' Day. The date chosen is in commemoration of the Chicago Haymarket Massacre, an incident which began with a labor demonstration on May 1, 1886 in which 35,000 workers walked off their jobs to demand an eight-hour workday. Escalating tensions led to clashes with police, and on May fourth, someone threw a firebomb that led to a gunfight. Eight police officers and an undetermined number of civilians were killed.
Police arrested hundreds of people, but never determined the identity of the bomb thrower. Amidst public clamor for revenge, however, eight anarchists, including prominent speakers and writers, were tried for murder. The partisan Judge Joseph E. Gary conducted the trial, and all 12 jurors acknowledged prejudice against the defendants. Lacking credible evidence that the defendants threw the bomb or organized the bomb throwing, prosecutors focused on their writings and speeches. The jury, instructed to adopt a conspiracy theory without legal precedent, convicted all eight. Seven were sentenced to death. The trial is now considered one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history.

Many Americans were outraged at the verdicts, but legal appeals failed. Two death sentences were commuted, but on November 11, 1887, four defendants were hanged in the Cook County jail; one committed suicide. Hundreds of thousands turned out for the funeral procession of the five dead men. In 1893, Governor John Peter Altgeld granted the three imprisoned defendants absolute pardon, citing the lack of evidence against them and the unfairness of the trial.

Read more about the Haymarket incident at the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Link -via Metafilter, where you'll find many more links on May Day.

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"The police assumed that an anarchist had thrown the bomb as part of a planned conspiracy; their problem was how to prove it. On the morning of May 5, they raided the offices of the Arbeiter-Zeitung, arresting its editor August Spies, and his brother (who was not charged). Also arrested were editorial assistant Michael Schwab and Adolph Fischer, a typesetter. A search of the premises resulted in the discovery of the "Revenge Poster" and other evidence considered incriminating by the prosecution.

On May 7 police searched the premises of Louis Lingg where they found a number of bombs and bomb-making materials. Lingg's landlord William Seliger was also arrested but cooperated with police and identified Lingg as a bomb maker and was not charged. An associate of Spies, Balthazar Rau, suspected as the bomber, was traced to Omaha. Brought back to to Chicago, Rau offering to cooperate with police. He alleged that the defendants had experimented with dynamite bombs and accused them of having published what he said was a code word, "Ruhe" ("peace"), in the Arbeiter-Zeitung as a call to arms at Haymarket Square ...

Rudolf Schnaubelt, the police’s lead suspect as the bomb thrower, was indicted and arrested twice early on but was released, and by May 14, when it became apparent he had had a significant role in the event, he had fled the country ...

Police investigators under Captain Michael Schaak had a lead fragment removed from a policeman's wounds chemically analyzed. They reported that the lead used in the casing matched the casings of bombs found in Lingg's home. A metal nut and fragments of the casing taken from the wounded also roughly matched bombs made by Lingg. Schaack concluded, on the basis of interviews, that the anarchists had been experimenting for years with dynamite and other explosives, refining the design of their bombs before coming up with the effective one used at the Haymarket." -- Wikipedia

"Bombs and bomb making materials", cooperating witnesses, fleeing defendants - obviously there was a "complete lack of evidence". After all, who doesn't carry a dynamite bomb to a peaceful labor demonstration? Right?

"On the eve of his scheduled execution, Lingg committed suicide in his cell with a smuggled dynamite cap which he reportedly held in his mouth like a cigar (the blast blew off half his face and he survived in agony for six hours)."

Smuggled dynamite cap - WTF!?! Where would he get something like that??

But then there's this: "In 2011, labor historian Timothy Messer-Kruse's book, The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists, was published. It is based on his examination of the trial transcripts and other archival material that, in his view, contained abundant evidence connecting defendants to advocacy of violence and preparations for it. Based on this, he concludes that Chicago's anarchists were indeed "part of an international terrorist network and did hatch a conspiracy to attack police with bombs and guns that May Day weekend"; and he calls the evidence establishing the guilt of "most of the defendants" "overwhelming".

Ooops.
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Che is dead, here's a lesson in how blogs work. Comment moderation is automatic for comments that have links or are very long. We don't know about them until we check, or until a comment complains about something we haven't seen. Then I have to go and read the whole thing, which may take some time.

Meanwhile, you not only wrote more than the people who work here do, you also quoted many, many paragraphs that you didn't write.

When you cry censorship, you can't seriously think that having a blog comment held for approval is anything like the threat of being jailed for speaking an opinion. As always, you are certainly free to post what you like on your own blog. Unless someone who actually wrote all that gets upset with the length of your quotes. It happens.

Meanwhile, if you can say something in a comment short enough for people to actually read, you can try again.
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