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Police Ignore the Right to Picket

On May 28, 1937, an orderly column numbering between 700 and 1000 people marched on Republic Steel’s South Chicago Works. The march was led by a woman, a bicyclist, and a man named "Dominic Esposito," who was carrying an American flag. A block from the mill gate, the marchers met a “force of club-swinging policemen.” When the marchers tried to continue to the mill gate, the police broke a club over Esposito’s head and then laid into the other marchers, starting a brief battle that ended with the marchers in retreat. At least twenty-four people were injured, including several who had to be hospitalized. Six marchers were arrested. Someone, almost certainly with the police, fired several gunshots. As organizer George Patterson recalled, the whole affair was one-sided: “We marched, and we were determined that we were going to picket. We met the police again. This time they really took a swat at us, and they were beating the hell out of everybody in the front lines. . . . Then they fired a few shots in the air, and that scattered us. . . . We ran like hell.” The police easily prevailed. Only a few officers were among the injured. This clash was but a harbinger of the turmoil to come.

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