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(en) US, Minesota, Media, ONE DAY IN JULY- A Street Festival for the Working Class - Recalling blood stained bricks

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 23 Jul 2004 16:29:58 +0200 (CEST)


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Column from the major Minnesota paper, on ONE DAY IN JULY- A Street
Festival for the Working Class-an event that members of NorthStar
Anarchist Collective- FRAC have been part of organizing. If you havn't
checked out the web page, you should www.1934strike.org
The bricks, once stained with blood, are mostly covered with asphalt now.
An old warehouse where the shooting began is being converted into upscale
lofts, starting at $300,000. But 70 years ago this week, at the
intersection of 3rd St. and 6th Av. N., class war broke out in
Minneapolis, and 67 striking union workers lay on the street, shot down by
police.

You may be forgiven if you have never heard of it.

In a city dotted by memorials to lumber barons, flour kings, Mary Tyler
Moore and anyone who ever sat on a park bench, there are no markers to
commemorate what happened here on July 20, 1934. Instead, the events of a
day that became infamous at the time as "Bloody Friday" have vanished down
a Minneapolis memory hole, too painful or too controversial to be
remembered.

Until now.

An ad hoc group of young labor activists who have been energized by
studying the "Teamster Rebellion" of 1934 have organized a commemoration
of a time when Minneapolis almost came apart at the seams, its class
structure shattered by gunfire and carnage.

Called One Day In July: A Street Festival for the Working Class, the event
will be held from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday on the site where Bloody
Friday took place and will be one part block party, one part rock concert
and one part consciousness-raising.

"The 1934 strike shaped everything else that happened across the country,"
says Kieran Knutson, a 33-year-old union member who was raised in
Minneapolis but who learned the story of the Teamsters Union's origins
only in recent years. He and the other organizers say they admire the
militancy and the innovative tactics of the 1934 strikers, who, in the
end, prevailed, turning Minneapolis into a union town.

"Our generation hasn't necessarily seen a lot of inspirational stuff from
the labor movement," Knutson says. "But this story is very inspirational.
And it all happened right here, in our fair city."

Once upon a time, Bloody Friday was a symbol of the struggle to unionize
workers in America, and was one of the violent incidents that led
President Franklin Roosevelt to reform labor relations under the National
Labor Relations Act, which still governs labor law today. But in a city
torn by a series of three strikes that brought class warfare and street
fighting, Bloody Friday was a black mark on the community's good name.

"It just kind of lapsed from public memory," says Holly Krig, 30, a member
of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Local 789 who helped organize
workers at the Borders Bookstore in Uptown two years ago. Krig and other
members of the committee organizing Saturday's commemoration believe that
the story of the 1934 events in Minneapolis has renewed meaning for
workers being Wal-Marted in a global economy, forced from skilled
production jobs into lower-paying service and retail jobs.

"Some people say they don't see how the events of 1934 are connected with
their lives," says Jeff Pilacinski, 26, an AFSCME member whose local was
on strike at the University of Minnesota last fall. "But fighting for a
living wage, fighting for better benefits -- these issues are very much
alive today."

"Class struggle is still going on," adds Knutson. "The only question is
whether the union side is going to fight or not."

Whether you agree with their politics or argue with their interpretation
of Bloody Friday, you have to give the young union activists points for
schooling themselves on a neglected chapter in the city's history. They
hope the commemoration will become an annual event, and plan to erect a
plaque next year that will recount the story of Bloody Friday.

Four people were killed during the 1934 strikes, as the newly formed
Teamsters Union fought for recognition and for contracts with the trucking
firms of the city. The civic leadership of Minneapolis resisted; the
Citizens Alliance, organized years earlier by business and industry
leaders, deputized hundreds of vigilantes to combat the union. Two of the
Citizens Alliance deputies were killed in a fight with union members in
May, setting up what many saw as retaliation on July 20. Two strikers shot
by police died that day.

Many Teamster Union leaders were jailed on sedition charges under terms of
a repressive law passed during the Red scares after World War I that
eventually was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Civic calm
eventually returned to Minneapolis; unions won recognition and respect,
and the bloody days of 1934 were left behind. Forgotten, and ignored.

"It was an earthquake that changed the landscape, but it has never been
resolved," says local labor historian Dave Riehle, while taking me on a
walking tour of the Bloody Friday site. "The city has never come to grips
with it. But once upon a time, everyone in Minneapolis -- and I mean
everyone -- had an opinion about it."

Riehle, who earns his living driving freight trains for Union Pacific, has
studied the story for many years and interviewed some of the last
survivors of that day, including the late Teamsters leader Jack Maloney,
who was among the wounded. In Riehle's view, there is little room for
argument about what happened.

"It was a deliberate massacre," he says, pointing out that an
investigation ordered by Gov. Floyd B. Olson concluded that the strikers
had been unarmed and that the police were not being threatened. "It was a
cold-blooded, armed assault that shot down 67 people and it's never been
redressed. Henry Ness (one of the strikers who died) was shot 38 times,
and from only 15 feet away. And many of the people who didn't die were
terribly torn apart.

"The bricks on this street have union DNA in them."
====================================
See also:
http://www.ainfos.ca/04/jul/ainfos00333.html
(en) US, A Street Festival For The Working Class - Remembering 1934 When Minneapolis became a Union Town
From: Worker - a-infos-en@ainfos.ca
By
- North Star Anarchist Collective, Federation of Revolutionary
Anarchist Collectives (FRAC)

Link: http://www.1934strike.org


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