06 May 2007

Mad As Hell

With everything that has been happening, I sort of slipped by May 4 which is an interesting date. This year we had the demonstrations by the Hispanic groups and their supporters. Just for the record, I strongly disagree with being lax on the subject of illegal immigration and coddling employers who hire under the table workers for cheap wages. I do support the right of citizens who feel differently to demonstrate that belief. No matter how much I may disagree with you about any issue, that right to peaceably assemble belongs to us all. If you get enough supporters to join you, you can sway the actions of government in the halls of Congress and the ballot box.

Still things got out of hand on the part of the police in Los Angeles. If you know anything about the history of the Los Angeles police, you were not even a little bit surprised. Those demonstrations reminded me of two other times on May 4 when the American people demonstrated and the power of government came down on their heads with full force. Despite these times of overweaning government reaction, the first Amendment seems to be healthy. Unfortunately, the peoples willingness to use it seems to have fallen by the wayside.

We have gotten lazy. It is easier to sit in front of the TV set with our remotes after a hard day's work, letting the powers that be run things to their own advantage with no protest from the American public. We make no effort to protest when our government encroaches on our freedoms. That encroachment has become pervasive in the last six years, and it just may be time to echo the anchorman in Network: "I'm mad as hell, an I'm not going to take it any more."

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. Four students were killed and nine others wounded.

The students were protesting the American invasion of Cambodia which President Richard Nixon launched on April 25, and announced in a television address five days later.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, high schools, and even middle schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of eight million students, and the event further divided the country along political lines.

1886 : The Haymarket Square Riot

At Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, a bomb is thrown at a squad of policemen attempting to break up a labor rally. The police responded with wild gunfire, killing several people in the crowd and injuring dozens more.

The demonstration, which drew some 1,500 Chicago workers, was organized by German-born labor radicals in protest of the killing of a striker by the Chicago police the day before. Midway into the rally, which had thinned out because of rain, a force of nearly 200 policemen arrived to disperse the workers. As the police advanced toward the 300 remaining protesters, an individual who was never positively identified threw a bomb at them. After the explosion and subsequent police gunfire, more than a dozen people lay dead or dying, and close to 100 were injured.

The Haymarket Square Riot set off a national wave of xenophobia, as hundreds of foreign-born radicals and labor leaders were rounded up in Chicago and elsewhere. A grand jury eventually indicted 31 suspected labor radicals in connection with the bombing, and eight men were convicted in a sensational and controversial trial. Judge Joseph E. Gary imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On November 11, 1887, Samuel Fielden, Adolph Fischer, August Spies, and Albert Parson were executed.

Of the three others sentenced to death, one committed suicide on the eve of his execution and the other two had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment by Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby. Governor Oglesby was reacting to widespread public questioning of their guilt, which later led his successor, Governor John P. Altgeld, to pardon fully the three activists still living in 1893.

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