Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Haymarket Memorial


The Haymarket Memorial, 2004
Mary Brogger
175 North Des Plaines Street between Lake and Randolph Streets

            One of three monuments in the city that address the Haymarket Affair of May 4, 1886, this bronze figurative group marks the precise location where a freight wagon, being used as a platform for speakers, was standing when a bomb was thrown into the crowd. In the midst of demonstrations for an eight-hour workday and labor strikes, a crowd had gathered to listen to speeches and was ordered to disperse by approximately 175 officers. At some point a bomb was hurled at the police. Eight police officers died and an undetermined number of the crowd were killed and wounded. Subsequently, eight anarchists were tried and convicted of murder with seven sentenced to death. Four were hanged in the Cook county jail and one committee suicide. The trial is now widely considered a travesty of justice and, in 1893, Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining defendants, based upon the lack of credible evidence. The identity of the person who threw the bomb has never been determined.
            Over the years, the site of the Haymarket bombing has become a symbol and meeting place for a variety of groups involved in social and political activism. Artist Mary Brogger, a former professor at the Art Institute of Chicago who is now based in Los Angeles, has created a depiction based upon the freight wagon, and the surrounding figures symbolize the ongoing struggles related to the often tense relationships between labor, business, law enforcement as well as the desire to maintain the right to free speech and assembly.

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