On July 20, 1934, two people were killed and 67 were injured in a protest during the Minneapolis truckers strike.
Trucks quit moving with the beginning of the the truckers’ strike on May 16, the day after Local 574 voted to approve a strike on all trucking employers. Representatives from Local 574 had three demands: They were looking for union recognition, wage increases and the right to represent inside workers.
By May 21, the strike had escalated and police and picketers engaged in hand-to-hand combat in central market. After the fight, more than 30 police officers had to be sent to the hospital. No one was arrested.
The next day, more than 20,000 people showed up to the central market. Trucks still were unable to move, and two deputies were killed during the day’s fighting.
By May 25 an agreement had been reached, but another strike was called by July 16 because union representatives did not believe the agreement was being honored as there was disagreement about which workers were covered under the agreement.
Trucks again quit moving. On July 20, 1934, a truck escorted by 50 police officers entered and made a successful delivery in the central market. When the truck was leaving, however, it’s path was blocked by strikers. Police opened fire with shotguns, killing John Belor and Henry Ness and wounding 67 other people.
One eyewitness told a local newspaper that police fired on everyone, including those trying to help the injured, according to Politics in Minnesota news service.
“They flowed directly into buckshot fire… and the cops let them have it as they picked up their wounded,” the witness said, according to Politics in Minnesota “Lines of living, solid men fell, broke, wavering.”
By July 26, 1934, Gov. Floyd B. Olson (DFL-Minn.) placed the city under martial law. At that point, more than 4,000 National Guardsmen came in and took control of the streets. Martial law continued for about a month until federal mediators could help the two sides reach an agreement.
Riehle, Dave. The Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934. www.1934strike.org.
Sundquist, Betsy. Possible nurses strike conjures memories of past standoffs. www.politicsinminnesota.com.
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