May in November

Haymarket Square memorial.

Entry #11   •   19th of November, 2014 Entry translated by  Pierre-Luc Roussel.
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[128] ans se sont écoulés,
Mais notre mémoire n'a rien oublié,
De l'assassinat de huit chefs ouvriers,
C'est en leur mémoire qu'on fête le premier mai!
     [128] years have passed with struggles we have fought
but our memory has not let us forget
About the murder of the eight worker leaders,
It's in remembering them that we celebrate May 1st

The first thing I did when I landed at the Union train station in Chicago was to go to the corner of Randolph and Desplaines streets at the Haymarket Square memorial.

At the end of the 19th century, a key demand of the labour movement was the eight-hour day. In 1886 a huge strike with more than 300 000 workers was launched in Chicago (in 1890 the total population of the city was about one million people) . As part of the strike, a rally was held on May 1st at Haymarket Square. The police were determined confront these "agitators", but the crowd was too large for them to take action. They waited for the crowd to disperse at the end of the rally to launch a very brutal offensive. Several people were killed and the crowd tried somehow to push back the police by using a homemade bomb, which killed a police officer. Quickly, the main labour leaders were arre ted and executed after a show trial (a member of the jury was of the family of a deceased police ... ).

In 1889, the Second International then gathered in Paris declared May 1st as the International Workers' day, in memory of Haymarket Square events. I do not know when the memorial was built , but it was recognized by the City of Chicago as a historic landmark in 1992.