Stop 5 Riot

Youngstown, O. - Today, 6/19/2017, marks the 80 year anniversary of the Stop 5 Riot at the gates of Republic Steel on Poland Avenue. This event is one that should never be forgotten. 

Below is an eyewitness account of the bloodshed that took place that day, which was called ladies day where the picket lines were manned by wives of the striking workers. There are other accounts out there, from the police and the chairman of the board of Repbulic at that time, but we should start here. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

The most important passage from this account, in my opinion, is this: "Soon thereafter, the sky was lit up with flares fired from the plant and was followed with a fusillade of machine gun fire from the overhead cranes in the old tube mill". Jesus Criminelli. 

The Vindicator reported that over 160,000 rounds of ammunition were purchased for the strike between Youngstown Sheet & Tube and Republic Steel. Let that sink in. 

The photos of National Guard machine gunners below were taken in Warren not long after the Stop 5 incident. 

 Machine gunners on hot metal bridge in Warren. Trumbull Cliffs furnace in background. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Machine gunners on hot metal bridge in Warren. Trumbull Cliffs furnace in background. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Machine gunners on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Machine gunners on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

The strikers were not innocent in all of this, at least some of them were waging warfare against the company. I'm not saying this should have given the company a license to kill, but they used it as justification. Photos of sabotage below.

 Derailed box cars on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Derailed box cars on Pine Avenue in Warren. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Pennsylvania Rail Road cars with hoppers opened up. Looks like they were hauling in limestone for the Blast Fce. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Pennsylvania Rail Road cars with hoppers opened up. Looks like they were hauling in limestone for the Blast Fce. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

There was so much tension at the Republic mills becuase they refused to close them, and still had employees working inside that didn't support the union. See below for telegraphs that were sent to holdouts in the Warren works.

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Segregated religious services were held for the holdouts in the mills, who were forced to live in the plants for fear of reprisal as they left the gates. 

 Employee housing near the stainless mill. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Employee housing near the stainless mill. Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Images below show how strong the tensions were between both sides. The holdouts in the mill hung an effigy of a CIO striker at the No. 1 hot strip mill, the strikers prepared a gate ramming car to breach the line.

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

All of this fighting and bloodshed was all for naught. The union still was unable to organize, and after the murders at Stop 5 the National Guard was deployed and put the strike down for good. The union may have gained some ground, but 80 years later these mills are either demolished, in the process of being demo'd, or sitting there rusting. The photo below was taken days after the killings in Youngstown. They repealed the beer ban that was in place during the strike, and it was back to business as usual. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

 Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Courtesy of Ohio Memory Connection. 

Republic Steel Corp. - Little Steel Strike

Warren, O. - As the Little Steel Strike heated up, many Republic Steel Corp. mills closed due to the pickets, but others remained operating with a skeleton crew of employees loyal to the company. The Warren works was one of these mills. The pickets were preventing food and supplies from being brought into the mills for the (scabs) men that stayed on, so the company improvised. 

Republic management initially used one biplane to drop supplies into the Niles mill. After a few failed attempts where the packages fell outside of the gates and were taken by pickets, they were eventually successful. Republic's president bought four more planes that day, and the fleet evenutally numbered 9 planes. A makeshift airfield was set up at the Warren works. 

It didn't take long for the strikers to realize the flights were effective. The planes launched from a secret airfield, and were reported to have altered their identification numbers. The strikers took matters into their own hands, and started hunting for the airfield and allegedly attempting to shoot down the planes as they flew into the mill. This was war, right in the middle of the Steel Valley. See the Vindicator headlines from 80 years ago today below. 

6/1/1937

6/2/1937 -  This plane was rumored to have been shot down.

5/31/1937

Even with the supposed anti-aircraft fire, the airdrops kept the mills running. The illustration on the envelope sent to the Trumbull Cliff Furnace (Republic Warren works) seems to indicate the S.W.O.C/C.I.O. was losing the battle, judging by the plane and the smoke still coming from the stacks. 

Press photos below, coutesy of the Ohio Memory Collection, that show the airfield at Warren and the urgency they unloaded the planes with. They say the men on the ground were under fire as well. 

The strike continued to rage on, and would evenutally escalate to more bloodshed and the loss of life on the steelworker's side at a Republic mill in Youngstown. More to come on that, don't change that dial.

Memorial Day Massacre

Chicago, IL. - Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre, the day that the Chicago Police Department killed 10 men attempting to picket the gates of Republic Steel's south Chicago plant. 

This was part of the Little Steel Strike, the effort of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee to organize the mills of Republic Steel, Youngstown Sheet and Tube and Inland Steel among others. Basically the major steel producers that were smaller than US Steel, who had recently signed a contract with the S.W.O.C.. Although this particular slaughter happened in Chicago, this same strike was effecting Youngstown, Warren, and Niles Ohio as well as other cities in the state. See the headline from the Youngstown Vindicator below, which was published on that same Memorial Day. I will talk more about the use of aircraft in the Youngstown area during this strike in a coming post, but you should know that this was war, on the ground, in the air, and also through the use of propaganda. 

5/30/1937

There were a total of 8 strikers permitted in front of Republic's main gate. On Memorial Day there was a rally near by the mill with hundreds of steel workers and others in attendance. A decision was made to march on the gates at Republic, and once they arrived all hell broke loose. 

There are some very different theories for why this slaughter took place. Some say there were communist agitators placed in these mills to incite the strike/violence, some say the companies and police were out to crush the strike with no concern for the spilled blood of a few steelworkers. I am reading the autobiography of the man who was the head of Republic at that time for perspective, but it seems very pro company. Almost biased hah. At the same time, so do the socialist websites that tell the story from the other side. I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Chicago Tribune - 1937

Either way, this event happened. 10 men killed in the street. Kids were shot. Men were shot in the back. No cops were shot. Some policemen were injured, I'll give them that, but shit. Shoot to kill! This wasn't even 100 years ago! 

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll stop talking now. Scroll past the images for a two part newsreel from the time that shows some of the riot. Please watch the video. The actual start of the shooting is blatantly missing. They say Paramount Pictures had a cameraman there that filmed the police opening fire with no warning, but the video was suppressed because it was may have caused widespread rioting. Or support for the union. Who knows. 

Click the following links for Part 1 and Part 2 of the newsreel footage regarding the massacre. 

Youngstown Sheet and Tube

Struthers, O. - Photo taken 5/28/1937, less than a month before the Stop 5 massacre at Republic Steel during the Little Steel Strike. A bunch of bad ass female pickets at Sheet and Tube.

Image courtesy of the Ohio Memory Connection.