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Haymarket Square Bombing Synopsis

Haymarket Square Bombing Synopsis. In the 1800s, the US was experiencing increasing strikes by industrial workers and this was largely due to dangerous and dismal conditions as well as low wages. With the labor movements taking shape during this time, they were characterized by radical factions of communists, socialists, and anarchists. The radical factions believed that the capitalist system was exploiting workers and should therefore be dismantled. On May 4 1886, the Haymarket labor protest turned into a riot after a bomb was used during the demonstrations.

            The labor protest rally that was being held at Chicago’s Haymarket square led to the death of at least eight people and this is after one of the rioters threw a bomb at police officers who were at the square. The rally had been organized by radicals who were protesting the wounding and death of some workers by police in Chicago during a strike (History, 2018). The strike that led to the death of the workers had been organized the day before the Haymarket square bombing. As the Haymarket square was coming to an end, policemen arrived to control and disperse the rioters. The advancement of the police officers towards the rioters led one unidentified individual to throw a bomb at the police officers. Following this, the police opened fire that may have been responded equally by some of the rioters and this created a high level of chaos at the square. One civilian and seven police officers were killed during the event while a large number of people were injured.

Haymarket Square Bombing Synopsis

            In connection with the event, eight labor activists were apprehended and convicted despite the fact that there was lack of evidence against them. The event became a setback for organized unions in the country as this led to the association of unionization and strikes by workers to criminality. In the wake of the bombing, there was a xenophobic wave that followed and this involved the arrest of labor organizers and foreign born radicals in large numbers. It was at this time that the eight labor activists were convicted in a sensational trial where the biasness was evident in the jury. Seven of the convicted activists were sentenced to death while one faced 15 years in prison. Four of the seven convicted activists were hanged in November 1887 (History, 2018). For the three remaining convicts, two of them had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment while one committed suicide a day to his execution. The commutation of the life sentences was as a result of increased questioning about the guilt of the activists and this led to the pardoning of the three activists that were alive in 1893.

            The Haymarket square bombing led to a tumultuous time for organized labor unions in the country and this is because public opinion was divided especially during the trials and execution of the suspects. For some members of the public there was increased anti-labor sentiment though others especially those in the labor unions believed that the activists had been convicted unfairly. Such led to their view as martyrs among the labor union members. There was a lasting effect on the labor movement in the United States since the Knights of Labor, the most successful union at the time, was blamed for the incident and this led to the withdrawal of most members who joined the American Federation of Labor which was less radical. 

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