I drove past this between Salida and Cotopaxi on State Highway 50 in Colorado. I had to turn around and tell whoever that I stood with them totally assuming I was correct. I was and got the biggest hug of appreciation for doing so.

From my understanding, there are close to 3000 children being held around this country after being seized from their parents at the border.

Many will never see their Mom and Dad again because Republicans are totally evil.

You bastards!


Labor Day - The Reason For It And The Innocent Men Who Went To Their Death

9/3/12 - Attacks on unions and labor continue and with success. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre. They were fighting for the eight hour work day in 1896. Killing these men and others worked as it took 51 more years before that happened. Few in this country have a clue about this and many other things as well. 

9/5/11 - Another year has flown by and this country continues to welcome misinformation and lies about unions and socialism and other things that originate from huge corporations including media. The mood of this country has many of the same traits as it had at the time of these murders at the hands of the powers that were in Chicago at that time. 

2010  - The  same post from last year in it's entirety (and the year before that). A  piece that tells a very important story and why I get the day off to go  explore because men like these died so I could do just that.

In  this country there are not many who know why we celebrate this holiday  but the story told below explains and we should all take pause now and  then and remember those who came before us whether it's this or any  number of other stories of people who sacrificed so our country could be  a better place to live in.

Remembering the Haymarket Martyrs

By Charles SullivanInformation Clearing House' -- --  Every now and then events transpire that cut through the rhetoric, the  carefully contrived images purveyed in the press and historical texts,  and reveal a nation’s dark soul in ghastly detail. Such an event  occurred in the streets of Chicago on May 4, 1886, and continued through  November 11 of 1887. They were set in motion years before.

05/16/06 "

At  noon on that day four of labor’s most courageous warriors: Albert  Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged for a  crime they did not commit. A fifth man, Louis Lingg, was slated to  share the fate of his comrades but he cheated the hangman and the state  of his innocent blood when he exploded a dynamite cap in his mouth from  his jail cell just hours before the execution. The explosive had been  smuggled in to him by an anarchist comrade. Another anarchist, Oscar  Neebe, has sentenced to fifteen years of prison and hard labor. Three  others had their death sentences commuted to life sentences.

In  the U.S. only a relative few working class people know that Labor Day,  originally May Day (May 1) originated with the hanging of these men. The  rest of the world celebrates their heroism on May 1; however, the U.S.  does not officially recognize their sacrifice by honoring them with a  national holiday. Virtually every worker worldwide owes a tremendous  debt to the Haymarket Martyrs, who provided the impetus and paid the  ultimate price for many of the benefits that all workers, including the  rank and file and upper management, now enjoy.

Those  were tumultuous times not only in Chicago but all across America, when  revolution was in the air and nationwide strikes crippled the burgeoning  economy. In Chicago alone 400,000 were out on strike protesting not  only reductions in wages but also demonstrating for the eight hour work  day—one of the central organizing principles of the anarchist’s  political philosophy. The Chicago anarchist movement that took root in  1884 was both strong and effective. Its leaders were skilled organizers  and eloquent orators.

The Chicago police of the day  were corrupt and routinely moved on the strikers at the behest of the  business community, prodded by the daily newspapers. In those days  companies had their own militias which were used to put down worker  insurrections with coercion and violence. They also hired Pinkertons to  intimidate and kill workers in order to prevent strikes and to maximize  profits. But when the strikers began organizing militias for their own  protection the state legislature outlawed them. The business militias,  however, were allowed to continue their grim work, leaving the workers  without protection and vulnerable. Strikers were routinely beaten,  imprisoned and killed by their employers and the police.

On  May 4, 1886, several unarmed strikers were shot dead by the Chicago  police and hundreds were brutally beaten, including innocent bystanders  at the McCormick Reapers Works. August Spies witnessed the affair with  horror and righteous indignation. His comrades were being murdered in  the streets and the killers did so with impunity. It seemed that all the  forces of Chicago were arrayed against the working people.

An  outraged August Spies organized a peaceful rally the following evening  at the Haymarket Square. After beginning in clear moonlight, the weather  suddenly turned cool and threatened rain, after a crowd of 3,000  gathered to hear the orators in the gathering gloom of the chilled night  air. Standing upon a hay wagon near a lone street lamp the speakers  berated the Chicago police for their indiscriminate killing of unarmed  workers. Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison, a just and honest man, was in  attendance. Satisfied that the gathering was peaceful and nearing  conclusion, Mayor Harrison informed the chief of police, John Bonfield,  who had sanctioned the shootings and mass beatings of the previous day,  not to march on the group or disrupt their meeting.

It  was getting late and the cold was penetrating when Albert Parsons and  most of the speakers left the rally to warm themselves at Zephf’s Hall.  Acting without legal authority, John Bonfield gathered a troop of 180  armed policemen and ordered them to disperse the dwindling crowd. After a  mild verbal confrontation, Samuel Fieldon, who was speaking to the  crowd when the police arrived, agreed to peacefully disperse. As Fieldon  leaped down from the hay wagon, an unknown assailant hurled a stick of  sizzling dynamite into the crowd of policemen. One officer was killed  and six others died in the ensuing mayhem as the result of the panic  stricken police firing indiscriminately into the fleeing crowd.

A  reign of terror soon swept over Chicago in the aftermath of the  Haymarket bombing. The press and the city’s business men, always hostile  to the strikers, blamed the anarchists and the socialists and cried for  their blood. The principal anarchists were quickly rounded up and put  into jail, except for Parsons who, though far from the site of the  incident, knew that Chicago’s business men demanded his head and skipped  town.

Demonized in the press and the business  community, the anarchists were immediately tried, convicted and executed  in the Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers even before any  evidence was gathered. The judge presiding over the trial did nothing to  conceal his prejudice and hostility toward the accused. Twelve  impartial jurors could not be found, so those who openly proclaimed the  guilt of the accused were paid to judge the case. During the early  stages of the trial Albert Parsons dramatically walked into the  courtroom and took his place at the side of his comrades to face his  fate with them.

With the impossibility of a fair trial,  and the irrational fear that Chicago’s ruling elite felt toward  immigrant social agitators, the men were convicted and sentenced to  death by hanging. Predictably, the trial was a farce, a media circus and  a travesty of justice. The jury consisted of businessmen, their clerks  and a relative of one of the dead policemen. Not a single working man or  woman was selected for the jury.

No evidence was  produced to link any of the accused with the bombing during the trial.  None of them were at or near the scene of the crime. No evidence was  brought forth to demonstrate that the anarchists had conspired to incite  violence that evening. But they were anarchists and socialists, a  threat to capital, and they were bound to hang for their political  views.

State attorney Julius Grinnell openly declared  that anarchism was on trial. By hanging the anarchists, Grinnell  reasoned, the sacred institutions of society would be saved. In essence,  free speech and the right of peaceful assembly were also on trial. Laws  to protect the rights of suspects were suspended and new precedents  established to hasten their conviction. The real agenda of Chicago’s  business community, however, was to put an end to the successful drive  for the eight hour work day and to permanently demonize organized labor.  It would require another fifty-one years for the eight hour work day to  become law as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Just a few  hours prior to the execution Albert Parsons wrote a friend that “The  guard has just awakened me. I have washed my face and drank a cup of  coffee. The doctor asked me if I wanted stimulants. I said no. The dear  boys, Engel, Fischer and Spies, saluted me with firm voices. Well, my  dear old comrade, the hour draws near. Caesar kept me awake last night  with the noise, the music of the hammer and saw erecting his throne—my  scaffold.” Parsons remained awake most of the night singing one of his  favorite songs, “Annie Laurie” in a soft, melancholy voice filled with  emotion.

More than 200 reporters gathered to witness  the execution, as did the citizenry. None of the friends or relatives of  the anarchists were permitted to attend. Albert Parson’s wife, Lucy,  and their children were not permitted to bid their beloved husband and  father a final farewell. Lucy Parsons was arrested in the attempt and  taken to jail in another part of the city.

A few  minutes before noon the four men were paraded onto the gallows scaffold.  A reporter described the scene, “With a steady, unfaltering step a  white robed figure stepped out…and stood upon the drop. It was August  Spies. It was evident that his hands were firmly bound behind him  beneath his snowy shroud.” Another reporter wrote, “His face was very  pale, his looks solemn, his expression melancholy, yet at the same time  dignified.” Fischer, Engel and Parsons followed in orderly procession.  Another reporter noted that Parsons “Turned his big gray eyes upon the  crowd below with such a look of awful reproach and sadness as it would  not fail to strike the innermost chord of the hardest-heart there. It  was a look never to be forgotten.”

The nooses were  placed around the men’s necks and muslin shrouds placed over their  heads. The executioner took up the axe that would in a moment cut the  rope and spring the trap doors upon which the four men stood, sending  them into ancestry. There was apprehension in the air thick as soup.  Four innocent men were about to be executed by the state. Just then a  “mournful solemn voice sounded.” It was August Spies speaking his final  words, “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than  the voices you strangle today.” Next, George Engel shouted in his native  German tongue, “Hurrah for anarchy!” Adolph Fischer chimed, “This is  the happiest day of my life.” Just as Albert Parsons began to utter his  final words that began, “Harken to the voice of the people,” the  executioner’s axe fell. The trap doors sprung open with a bang and the  four men jerked violently on the end of their ropes and then dangled in  the air.

None of them died quickly of broken necks, as  was supposed to happen; they violently twisted and strangled to death  over a period of several minutes, some of them kicking and writhing in  agony. The captains of industry celebrated the death of the anarchists  while the workers mourned for their fallen comrades. But the dream of  the eight hour work day, while strangled, did not die with the Chicago  anarchists. It lived on in the lives of Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs,  Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood, who were inspired by the Haymarket  Martyrs and went on to organize.

Some 600,000 workers  turned out for the anarchist’s funeral. Lucy Parsons was inconsolable in  her grief and spent the remainder of her life continuing the work that  she and Albert had begun years before in Texas and later Chicago. This  was the event that precipitated the eight hour work day, the  internationally celebrated May Day, and Labor Day in the U.S. It is  tragic that so few working class people are aware of the tremendous  price that the Haymarket Martyrs paid for the freedoms that so many of  us take for granted today.

On June 26, 1893, newly  elected Illinois Governor John Altgeld set the remaining anarchists free  and cleared the names of the hanged. Altgeld, a fair minded man, after  examining transcripts of the trial and reams of related documents  declared that all of the anarchists were innocent of the crimes for  which they were convicted. Altgeld concluded that the hanged men had  been victims of “hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge.” Later,  evidence came to light that the dynamite may have been thrown by a  police agent working for police captain Bonfield, as part of a  conspiracy hatched by local business men to discredit the entire labor  movement.

The state sponsored murder of the Haymarket  anarchists, while particularly poignant, is by no means an isolated  incident in American labor history. In the spring of 1886 America was on  the verge of becoming something other than what she was. A new dawn in  which working class people were on a par with business elites was almost  within grasp and the eight hour work day virtually assured. Had justice  prevailed that year in a hot Chicago courtroom and the normal  procedures of the law followed, America would have been a very different  place; a more just and peaceful future than the one we have now would  have been possible and likely.

The entire Haymarket  affair betrays the violent nature of capital and reveals its modus  operandi. Aside from all the rhetoric about free speech and democracy,  it exposes who runs the country, who makes the laws and who enforces  them. It is capital, not we the people that are running things. Time and  again the ugly side of America has been revealed when the status quo  was threatened with real democracy. And it will happen again until the  class struggle is finally resolved with just outcomes. The judgment of  History has exonerated the fallen victims of predatory capital and  indicted the real perpetrators of crimes against humanity, but who go  unrepentant and unpunished.

Until millions of ordinary  working class people awaken to the kind of country America really is,  the death of Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George  Engel will have been in vain. Workers the world over owes a great debt  to these courageous men, whose lives, strangely, are celebrated abroad  but scarcely known here. Unless we remember these men and honor what  they did for us their sacrifice will have been in vain. We owe them  nothing less and much more.

Author’s note: I urge those  who wish to know more about these events to read labor historian James  Green’s recently published book “Death in the Haymarkett: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America.”

Charles  Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer  residing in the hinterland of West Virgina. He welcomes your comments at  earthdog@highstream.net


  1. How long before the vigilantes and union-breakers are out in force again in America?

  2. They are Tony but in different forms. There's not much left of unions and many are convinced unions are very bad for their Amerika!