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by Seamus McGuire
Thursday, Jul. 08, 2004 at 11:04 AM
July Street Festival to Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Strikes That Made Minneapolis a Union Town
Young Union Activists Aim to Keep Memory of 1934 Workers' Sacrifices Alive
Minneapolis, MN - Music and memory will combine in a street festival scheduled for Minneapolis' Warehouse District on Saturday, July 24, to honor the 70th anniversary of a bloody confrontation that resulted in the death of two strikers and the wounding of 65 more. The festival, called One Day in July, is being organized by young members of Minneapolis labor unions who want to keep the history and significance of the 1934 events alive.
"We found that very few people in our generation know about the day in July 1934 when the Minneapolis police opened fire on the striking truck drivers," said Kieran Knutson, 33, a member of the Communication Workers of America and the lead organizer of One Day in July. The Minneapolis labor turmoil of 70 years ago is widely regarded by historians as a major turning point in labor organizing during the tumultuous Depression years.
One Day in July will take place at the intersection of 3rd Street North and 6th Avenue North, a block south of Washington Avenue in the Warehouse District - the site where police opened fire on unarmed strikers in 1934. The street festival, which will be free and open to the public from 2 to 10 p.m. on July 24, will include food and beverage vendors and feature musical performances.
Performers committed to participate in the festival so far include The Strike, a political punk band from Chicago; Brother Ali, a rap artist; Sicbay, an alternative rock band; Clay Moore Trio, a jazz group; Kari Tauring, an acoustic folk singer; Heads & Bodies, a post- punk political band; Paul Metsa. folk/blues singer and band; and Belles of Skin City, an art-rock band.
All performers are donating their services as a tribute to the sacrifices of the workers of 1934.
"We want the character of the event to be popular and powerful, in the spirit of the '34 strikes," Knutson said. "And, we hope to make this an annual event to keep the history alive and to connect it to the challenges workers face today."
The murderous assault on workers in 1934 was the culmination of a series of three strikes that year organized by Teamsters Local 574. The bloody confrontation on July 20 occurred when the anti-union business organization known as the Citizens Alliance demanded that Police Chief Mike Johannes attack a crowd of unarmed pickets. After the deaths and injuries inflicted by the police, pro-union sentiments rose decisively in Minneapolis and spread nationwide. Later, a special investigation commission appointed by Governor Floyd B Olson found that "Police took direct aim at the pickets and fired to kill. Physical safety of the police was at no time endangered...". The historic events are recorded in detail in William Millikan's A Union Against Unions: The Minneapolis Citizens Alliance and Its Fight Against Organized Labor, 1903-1947, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2001.
Members of the organizing committee for One Day in July include Kieran Knutson, Communications Workers of America Local 7250; Jason Evans and Holly Krig, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789; Jim McGuire, Office and Professional Employees Union Local 12; Peter Molenaar, Teamsters Local 970; Kevin McKenzie, Teamster Local 320; and Jeff Pilacinski, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800. Volunteer first aid is being provided by union nurses.
Funding for the event is being raised through the sale of program book ads.
The organizing committee has established a website:
For more information contact email@example.com
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