About the Haymarket Reenactment

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Yesterday I posted a write-up of the Haymarket Riot Reenactment on the Badatsports blog…you can read the piece in its entirety by going here. In the meantime, I’ve posted an excerpt below… O yea–and sorry I’ve been neglecting my usual blog-posting schedule. It’s been a super fun, super busy couple of weeks. I’ll write something more about that soon but at the moment, I’m juggling deadlines!

 

Until recently, my recollection of the Haymarket Riot is as follows:

Me, age 15 in the high school library looking over microfiche and taking notes on note cards as had been suggested by our US History teacher. As prickly as he was hilarious, he had a ruler he thwatted against the table and black board for emphasis. He made Republican jokes and I was very proud of the notes I took in his class. I used a variety of colors, more for aesthetic presence than any sort of code. He said once the only reason he became a teacher was because he always liked his teachers and  wanted to be similarly liked. He said once he’d started teaching he realized it was only the good students that liked you and there weren’t very many of them. I wanted to be a good student. Actually, I was passable.

To be fair, I only chose to write about the Haymarket Riot because “riot” was in the topic title. And, actually, I do not remember much about my research. I remember being interested in how people managed to organize under such exhausted, alienating conditions. I remember being surprised at the conditions under which they worked; for instance, that previous to the riot people worked more than 8hrs a day on the regular. But aside from that I only recall my preoccupation with not plagiarizing and using a variety of pens to make my note cards handsome. The rest of that paper is a blur.

The older I get the more I discover blind spots like these—details that slipped past the guards of my younger memory.

Today, May 4th 2011, marks the proper 125th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot. On Saturday, April 30th Paul Durica’s well-loved A Pocket Guide To Hell partnered with the Illinois Labor History Society, Version 11: Community, the Haymarket Pub & Brewery, Drinking & Writing Theater, and the Fulton District Association to stage a reenactment of those 1886 events. There were two groups. One, the one I was a part of, met at the Haymarket Brewery to get dressed up participate as police. The other, the anarchists and attendees, gathered at Randolph and Desplaines where a history was read and performed from a predetermined script. I can’t speak for what happened in the square before our arrival, so I’ll just give you a play-by-play of my experience.

 

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