this day in crime history: may 30, 1937


On this date in 1937, ten unarmed demonstrators were shot and killed by Chicago Police outside the Republic Steel mill. The demonstrators were members of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. They were on strike against Republic and other steel companies that had refused to sign a labor agreement similar to one reached with U.S. Steel, the largest of the American steel companies.

On Memorial Day, hundreds gathered at SWOC headquarters and prepared to march on Republic Steel. As they neared the mill, their path was blocked by members of the Chicago Police Department. The protestors were told to turn back. When they refused, the police answered with tear gas, billy clubs and bullets. Ten of the protestors were killed, dozens more were injured.

A coroner’s jury would later rule the deaths as “justifiable homicide.”

If you’d like to judge for yourself whether deadly force was justified, check out this video of the incident. The violence starts about five and a half minutes into the video. Not a great moment in Chicago Police history.

Further reading:

Wikipedia: Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

Chicagoist – Flashback: Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

5 thoughts on “this day in crime history: may 30, 1937

  1. Not defending anyone here, but you gotta remember that police had a lot more leeway in those days.
    Those were the days when police motorcycles sported sidecars with mounted Thompson submachine guns.


    • And the shootings weren’t unprovoked. The strikers advanced on the cops after repeatedly being told to halt. But shooting unarmed people in the back as they were running away was about as over-the-line as you can get.


  2. John D.:
    I can’t help but wonder every time we hear or see something like THIS, if we’re not slicing our OWN (manufacturing) throats a little further by caving to union pressure.
    It’s a vicious cycle that prices us OUT of many markets.

    Good story.

    stay safe out there.


    • Unions became victims of their own success. They achieved all their goals, then got greedy. They got away with it for a while, but globalization made it possible for industry to go around them by moving overseas.


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