1930 February 26

Communists, Police Clash on Wall Street


Communist demonstrators, led by the Young Communist League, clashed with police on Wall Street on this day. The demonstration was a Welcome Home party for John Porter, just released from 18 months in federal prison. The Communists claimed that he had been imprisoned for his “militant activities” in the New Bedford, Massachusetts, textile strike in 1928. The police said he had been imprisoned for desertion from the army.

The rally almost disbanded when Porter did not arrive when expected. Then he arrived by elevated train, along with a small group of supporters. A march of about 200 people then proceeded up Front Street to Wall Street. A New York City police Inspector demanded to see their parade permit, and when they did not produce one ordered the marchers to disband. The police then blocked the march and a melee ensued. Protesters denounced the police as “Cossacks,” and carried signs reading “Fight, Don’t Starve,” “No Rent from Unemployed Workers,” and “Down with the Boy Scouts” (the relevance of which as not clear). A city-wide demonstration was planned for March 6th.

The demonstration was one of many organized by the Communist Party around the country in response to the Great Depression, many of which resulted in clashes with the police.

Learn about civil liberties in the early 1930s: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

And more: Irving Bernstein, Lean Years: A History of the American Worker (1060)

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