Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to view and photograph the Haymarket Memorial in the West Loop, just east of the Kennedy(?) Expressway. It is a fascinating case of how a city and society chooses to memorialize a controversial event. For about a century, the Haymarket Massacre was commemorated as the site of the deaths of police officers. A statue stood near the Haymarket that showed a police officer on a pedestal; it is the statue that has become infamous in the last month as the one that was blown to pieces by the Weathermen, scattering debris onto the interstate below. The policemen's memorial is now safely tucked away at the Police Academy, while a new memorial, this one commemorating the organizers of the labor strike has risen on the spot of the wagon where the speakers stood. It is not the most striking piece of sculpture, but it is very meaningful. The men who stood atop the wagon were later unjustly persecuted, executed and imprisoned for fighting for safe conditions and a sane work week. People have left various offerings, including crucifixes, stones and other dedicatory inscriptions. Of course, there is the usual dose of bone-headed "anarchist" graffiti from some spoiled rich kid from the suburbs. Of course.