May 4, 1886
The Haymarket Affair begins as a peaceful protest that escalates into a full riot
The rally began as a both demonstration demanding an 8-hour work day (the standard at the time was 10-hour work days, 6-day work weeks) as well as protest against police shooting union workers the day before.
As the demonstration continued, police attempted to disperse the crowd. During this time an anarchist threw a dynamite bomb into the group of policemen, killing 1 and mortally wounding 6 more. Police fired into the crowd in retaliation, and the protestors fired back in turn. Order was regained somewhat quickly after police were given the order to stop firing out of fear they may hurt or kill each other in the darkness. One police official was quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune as saying “A very large number of the police were wounded by each other’s revolvers. … It was every man for himself, and while some got two or three squares away, the rest emptied their revolvers, mainly into each other.”
By the end of the night, 4 demonstrators were killed, 70 injured, and over 100 arrested. Police suffered 7 casualties and 60 injuries. Eight anarchists were arrested for building or throwing the dynamite bomb that sparked the riot: 1 was given a 15 year sentence, 2 had their death sentences commuted by the governor, 1 committed suicide in prison to avoid the gallows, and 4 were hanged November 11, 1887.
The Haymarket Affair is widely considered one of, if not the, most influential points in history of labor rights.