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Cooley Hurd

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,766

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May 8, 1970 - The Hard Hat riot takes place...

A dark day in the history of Labor.


The Hard Hat Riot occurred on May 8, 1970 in Lower Manhattan. The riot started about noon when about 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO attacked about 1,000 high school and college students and others protesting the Kent State shootings, the American invasion of Cambodia and the Vietnam War near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street. The riot, which spread to New York City Hall, lasted little more than two hours. More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Six people were arrested.


On May 4, 1970, thirteen students were shot, four fatally, at Kent State University in Ohio during a protest of the Vietnam War and the incursion into Cambodia. As a show of sympathy for the dead students, then-Republican Mayor of New York City John Lindsay ordered all flags at New York City Hall to be flown at half-staff the same day.

The American labor movement was deeply divided over support for President Richard Nixon's Vietnam policies. AFL-CIO President George Meany and most labor leaders in the United States were vehemently anti-communist and strongly supported American military involvement in Southeast Asia. But by 1970, union members were divided in their support for the war.

One of the strongest supporters of the president's war policy was Peter J. Brennan. Brennan was president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an alliance of building and construction unions in the New York City area. He was also president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York, the statewide umbrella group for construction unions. Additionally, he served as the vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council and the New York State AFL-CIO, umbrella groups for all labor unions in these respective areas. Brennan was a registered Democrat who had lobbied strongly for Democrats through the 1950s and 1960s, but increasingly supported Republican candidates as support for skilled labour unions decreased. The building and construction unions were overwhelmingly blue-collar and male, and large majorities of these union members supported Nixon's Vietnam policy.

Shortly after the Kent State shootings, anti-war protesters announced they would hold a rally near City Hall to memorialize the four dead students. Brennan decided to organize a counter-rally of construction workers to show support for the Nixon administration.

The riot

At 7:30 a.m. on May 8, several hundred anti-war protesters (most of them high school and college students) began holding a memorial at Broad and Wall Streets for the four dead students at Kent State. By late morning, the protesters—now numbering more than a thousand—had moved to the steps of Federal Hall, gathering in front of the statue of George Washington which tops the steps. The protesters demanded an end to the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, the release of "political prisoners" in the United States, and an end to military-related research on all university campuses.

At five minutes to noon, about 200 construction workers converged on the student rally at Federal Hall from four directions. Nearly all the construction workers carried American flags and signs that read "All the way, USA," and "America, Love it or Leave it." Their numbers may have been doubled by others who had joined them as they marched toward Federal Hall. A thin line of police formed to separate the construction workers from the anti-war protesters. At first, the construction workers only pushed but did not break through the police line. After two minutes, however, the workers broke through the police line and began chasing students through the streets. The workers chose those with the longest hair and beat them with their hard hats and otherwise. Attorneys, bankers and investment analysts from nearby Wall Street investment firms tried to protect many of the students but were themselves attacked. Onlookers reported that the police stood by and did nothing.

Some of the construction workers and counter-protesters moved across City Hall Park toward New York City Hall. They mounted the steps, planted their flags at the top of the steps, then attempted to gain entrance to City Hall. Police on duty at City Hall initially barred them, but soon the mob pushed past these guards. A few workers entered the building. A postal worker rushed onto the roof of City Hall and raised the American flag there to full mast. When city workers lowered the flag back down to half-mast, a large number of construction workers stormed past the police. Deputy Mayor Richard Aurelio, fearing the building would be overrun by the mob, ordered city workers to raise the flag back to full mast.

Rioting construction workers also attacked buildings near City Hall. They ripped the Red Cross and Episcopal Church flags down from a flag pole at nearby Trinity Church. One group invaded a nearby Pace University building, smashing lobby windows with clubs and crowbars and beating up students.

More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Most of the injured required hospital treatment. Only six people were arrested.


During a press conference that evening, President Nixon tried to defuse the situation before tens of thousands of students arrived in Washington, D.C. for a scheduled protest rally the next day. Nixon said he agreed with everything the protesters were trying to accomplish, and defended the recent U.S. troop movements into Cambodia as aiding their goal of peace.

Mayor Lindsay severely criticized the police for their lack of action. Police Department organization leaders later accused Lindsay of "undermining the confidence of the public in its Police Department" by his statements, and blamed the inaction on inadequate preparations and "inconsistent directives" in the past from the Mayor's office.

On May 11, Brennan and officials of other unions said that the confrontation had been a spontaneous reaction by union workers "fed up" with violence and flag desecration by antiwar demonstrators, and denied that anything except fists had been used against the demonstrators. Brennan said that telephone calls and letters to the unions were 20 to 1 in favor of the workers. It was generally believed that the action by construction workers was not premeditated, though one man claimed to have seen suited men directing the workers.

Several thousand construction workers, longshoremen and white-collar workers protested against the mayor on May 11, holding signs reading "impeach the Red Mayor" and chanting "Lindsay is a bum". They held another rally May 16, carrying signs calling the mayor a "rat", "Commy rat", "faggot" and "traitor". Lindsay described the mood of the city as "taut". The rallies culminated in a large rally on May 20 in which an estimated 150,000 construction and other workers peacefully marched through the streets of downtown New York City. Workers in the surrounding buildings showed their support by showering the marchers with ticker tape.

On May 26, Brennan led a delegation of 22 union leaders to meet with President Nixon at the White House and presented him with a hard hat. Nixon general counsel Charles Colson, in charge of developing a strategy to win union support for Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, identified Brennan as a friendly labor leader due to his role in organizing the counter-protests of May 8 and May 20. Brennan later met privately with Nixon on Labor Day.

Brennan later organized significant labor union political support for Nixon in the 1972 election. Nixon appointed Brennan as his Labor Secretary after the election as a reward for his support.

98 years ago today: RMS Lusitania sunk by U-Boat. 1198 dead.


The sinking of the Cunard ocean liner RMS Lusitania occurred on 7 May 1915 during the First World War, as Germany waged submarine warfare against Britain. The ship was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat U-20 and sank in 20 minutes. The vessel went down 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 and leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

Lusitania had the misfortune to fall victim to torpedo attack relatively early in the First World War, before tactics for evading submarines were properly implemented or understood. The contemporary investigations both in the UK and the United States into the precise causes of the ship's loss were obstructed by the needs of wartime secrecy and a propaganda campaign to ensure all blame fell upon Germany. Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made misleading claims about the ship. At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle ammunition and other supplies necessary for a war economy, as well as civilian passengers. Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about precisely how the ship sank, and argument continues to the current day.

Such a terrible death toll, despite having enough lifeboats. She simply went down too quickly to allow for the full evacuation of the ship.

History is a strong fucking thing...

This moment, I'm sitting in the very room in which my father was born in 1923. No shit. My house was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1917. It passed from him to my grandmother, and then to my mother (who passed in 1999) and then to my oldest sister. I am a caretaker for my sister who suffers from diabetes.

Here I am, almost 90 years after my father's birth, in the VERY same room where he entered this curious world, and I'm contemplating today's ills.

One would think that the world of 1923 would be anachronistic to the world of today. But it's not.

Sure... they didn't have the internet. They didn't even have good roads on which to travel.

But, 90 years later, we're still dealing with nativism. With racism. And now the bizzare blood-lust happening in Worcester.

I have one simple plea to my fellow DUers. What the fuck have we become?????

Dear Assholes standing outside of the Worcester funeral home...

...where fellow asshole Tsarnaev is decomposing as we speak:

GO THE FUCK HOME. Do you REALLY want to be lumped in with THIS crowd?


In 1996, I visited Washington DC. I walked up the East Steps of the Capitol and into the Rotunda...

In 2013 - two weeks ago today - I actually believed I could still do the same.

Um... no. There's now a Capitol Visitors Center. Very impressive, but it was as close to getting into the building itself as I could get, without reservations (which I had no idea were now needed). That saddened me, but thought I could lift my spirits by going to Penn Ave and checking out the North Portico of the White House.

Um... no again. Penn Ave was closed off in front of the White House (due to two losers who decided to set off a couple of home made bombs 450 miles away). Hell, couldn't even get anywhere near the Zero Milestone, which is due south of the WH (fenced off w/ armed, uniformed Secret Service). This is as close as I could get:

The US has become so frightened that we can't even bask in the wonderful history in our Capital City. And that has saddened me beyond belief. I used to LOVE visiting DC. Now it's just a place that you can see from afar, but not touch.

I hate what we've become.

6 months ago today; Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in the Northeast


Formed: October 22, 2012

Dissipated: October 31, 2012 (extratropical after October 29)

Highest winds: 1-minute sustained - 115 mph (185 km/h)

Lowest pressure: 940 mbar (hPa); 27.76 inHg

Fatalities: 147 direct, 138 indirect (285 total)

Damage: ≥ $75 billion (2012 USD) (Second-costliest hurricane in US history)

Areas affected: Greater Antilles, Bahamas, most of the eastern United States (especially the coastal Mid-Atlantic States), Bermuda, eastern Canada

The last edition of NBC News Overnight:

KO's inspiration, kids...

April 12, 1945 - 68 years ago today:

Dear President Obama;

Please think of this man as you move forward on any budget resolutions.

Thank you,
Disciples of FDR

Arkansas AG to investigate oil pipeline leak

Source: CNN.com

(CNN) -- Arkansas is opening an investigation into what caused last week's pipeline rupture that allowed thousands of barrels of heavy crude oil to flow into a community in the middle of the state.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Tuesday he asked Exxon Mobil, the owner of the 60-year-old Pegasus pipeline, to preserve all documents and information related to the spill and cleanup efforts.

"This incident has damaged private property and Arkansas's natural resources. Homeowners have been forced from their homes as a result of this spill," McDaniel said in a news release Tuesday. "Requesting that Exxon secure these documents and data is the first step in determining what happened and preserving evidence for any future litigation."

About two dozen homes in Mayflower, Arkansas, were evacuated last week as the crude oil, which originated in Canada and was bound for Gulf Coast refineries, crawled through yards and down streets. The evacuation could last for several more days as crews work to clean the spill.

The oil began spilling Friday from a 2- or 3-inch gash in the Pegasus pipeline, which carries Canadian crude from Illinois to Texas, a state transportation engineer said.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/02/us/arkansas-pipeline-spill/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

50(!) years ago today. The album "Please Please Me" is released...

...and a really GREAT tribute:
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