It is clear that since the bombing and the trial that followed the events surrounding the case have become a political football. Whenever the country lurched to the right the four people who were hung back in 1887 become Socialist, Communistic scum. Whenever it lurched left they became martyrs trying to achieve a better world for the collective whole. The truth no doubt lies in the way that the reader sees the world.
The Haymarket riot is a cautionary tale for the occupy movement and anyone who advocates for an abandonment of non-violence. Once change occurs and a movement steps into violence it gives the authorities an excuse to bring all their weight to bear on the protesters and to close off public debate. The authorities are already doing this to a degree; but as they do more people wonder why they feel the need to do this to unarmed people and they are getting their butt kicked in the public relationship war. Give them an excuse and all that will changes. To quote John Lennon, "When you talk about destruction. Don't you know you can count me o...o...o...out."
I agreed with John Lennon then and I agree with it now. And it's not because I believe peace, love and understanding - which I do - but also because as a strategy of more violence strikes me to be a very short sighted path.
I think of how much the world has changed since 1887:
Back then, America seemed to believe in jury trials as there were no such thing as indefinite rendition and the authorities had to at least follow the pretense of law. The strongest weapon that the police had were billy clubs and they weren't armed like they were something out of a robocop movie. They didn't have tanks, drones, tazors or pepper spray. Back then, there was still in active movement that believed in world peace and the brotherhood of workers in different countries. Since that time many see themselves as individual cogs in a collective war machine being threatened by hidden others, as they get individually screwed, as they send those under the individually off to fight in their leaders collective and multiple wars.
Monument to the policemen who entered the Haymarket. The monument for policemen who entered the square which seemed to set off the riot. The monument was blown up twice during the 1960s during another turbulent time. The state eventually packed the statue of where is was hidden on the grounds of the police academy.
In later time the Chicago police force took in active role in beating anti-war demonstrators at the 1968 rally. Putting on trial the Chicago seven where one of the defendants was actually gagged in a chair during the trial. The police force certainly have had their problems with the first amendment in the past.
Chicago in the 1960's looking like an Occupy movement forty years later. The problem is why does the police feel it's ok to beat Americans when they are exercising their first amendment right.
Studs Terkel talked about the Haymarket riots and the role labor has played in America. At the centennial he called the event "one of the most traumatic moments in American labor history." According to Terkel, "It was all about the fight for freer workplace...(Some young workers) bad mouth unions... (but they accept the freedom union gained for workers). But did they know how it came about, how many blacklistings, how many busted heads, how many busted lives it took? Whatever benefits American working people have today didn't come from the big heartedness of those who employed them, There were hard-fought gains, through hard-fought battles."
With that, it remains to be seen that if no one agitates or protests it will clearly slide back as it has for the last seventy years in an America that is complacent in their accomplishments.