On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of US workers went onto the streets to demand the general acceptance of an eight-hour day. Chicago was the center of the movement. Workers have been agitating for eight hours working our here for months, and on the eve of May 1st, 50,000 of them have already been on strike. New 30,000 workers joined the next day – this led most of Chicago’s production to a standstill.
The fear of violent class conflict has taken over the city. Violence was absent on Saturday and Sunday, May 1st and 2nd. But on Monday, on May 3, happened a fight where hundreds of people took part and broke out into McCormick Reaper among Union workers who were prevented from coming to work and those who did not belong to a Union that McCormick hired instead. The numerous and well-armed police quickly intervened with sticks and firearms to restore order. They killed four union members, and many were injured.
After the incident, an anarchist group led by August Spajs and Albert Parsons called on workers to arm themselves and participate in mass demonstrations at Haymarket Square on Tuesday (May 4th). Demonstrations of only 3,000 seemed to be a total failure. But before the end of the demonstrations, the person whose identity was never identified threw a bomb that killed 7 and wounded 67 policemen. The city and state authorities arrested eight anarchists, accused them of murder and sentenced them to death.
On November 11, 1887, four men, including Parsons and Spies, were executed. All executed individuals advocated for armed struggle and violent revolutionary methods, but their prosecutors did not find any evidence that any of them really threw the bomb.
While Parson’s funeral procession passed through the city, 250,000 people lined up along Chicago’s streets to express their solidarity with executed workers.
Since then, at the First Congress of the 2nd International held in 1889, it was decided: “The first of May is to be a common holiday of all countries in which the working class should manifest the unity of its demands and its class solidarity.” Since then, the tragic Haymarket event has been marked every year as the day of international workers’ solidarity in the form of demonstrations. For workers and trade unionists around the world, Haymarket has become a symbol of complete inequality and injustice of the capitalist society.
To this day, both in our country and in the whole world, this day is celebrated in memory of martyrs from the square “Haymarket”.
After 50 years of communist rule, during which the 1st of May was celebrated as a great national holiday in the SFRY, the population of the region is still not fully aware of what this holiday represents.