This year marks the second annual Reclaim May Day festival. Last May Day five thousand people-participated in Reclaim May Day, an event to renew the honoring of International Workers Day. This year housing, homeless, community, labor and historical groups will be coming together to celebrate and also to oppose the assault on the poor and working people of San Francisco.
The modern May Day honoring workers came about because of the events in Chicago 1 886. the Haymarket Riot. 1 886 saw much agitation for the eight hour day with Chicago being particularly active. In the previous five years there were an average of 150,000 workers involved in strikes in each of those years, but in 1,886 500,000 workers participated in strikes. May 1 st saw strikes called nationwide and 350,000 workers went on strike. Every railroad in Chicago was shut down and most industry was non-functional. On May 3rd, in front of the McCormick Harvester Works, strikers and sympathizers were fighting scabs. the police fired into the crowd of strikers, killing four and wounding several. A meeting was called for the next evening, to be held at Haymarket Square. About three thousand people were there and by all accounts it was peaceful. Toward the end of the meeting it started to rain and much of the crowd was leaving. At this time about 180 cops showed up to disperse the crowd . In the midst of this a bomb was thrown, exploding near the cops, killing seven and wounding sixty- six. No one knew who threw the bomb, but the call went out to round up known anarchists. Eight anarchists were arrested for the crime even though only one was at Haymarket Square that day and he was speaking when the bomb went off. There was no evidence against any of the eight arrested but they were all convicted and five were slated to hang.
Internationally, meetings were held to try to put pressure on Illinois to free the Haymarket Eight, but to no avail. Just a year later, 1887, four anarchists, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged. The fifth, Louis Lingg, died by his own hand in his prison cell. The three others we eventually pardoned.
Reclaim May Day
Saturday, May 1st
11 a.m. on Dolores Park