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1937. Herb March was a pioneer organizer and, for years, the leader of the Chicago Packinghouse Workers Union. Having risked his own life to organize meatpackers, he was there, on the South Chicago prairie, to witness the Memorial Day Massacre.
My brother-in-law was working at Republic Steel and was out on strike. The union decided to have mass picketing, and they contacted people from steel locals all through South Chicago and Gary, Indiana, and workers from other unions, including Packinghouse. They planned a picnic first, so I took my wife and boy out there that Sunday. After the picnic we proceeded to the picket area. A line of police barred the road between the union hall and Republic Steel. Their clubs were not ordinary ones; they were shiny and twice the usual length. And on some box cars up ahead, a couple of machine guns were mounted. There were a thousand pickets and five hundred police, fanned out facing them. Then suddenly all hell broke loose. The police started clubbing and shooting. I was knocked down by a police club. I saw policemen shooting people who had already been clubbed. They were firing indiscriminately at anybody. Jane grabbed our two-year-old son and ran. A bullet went right past his head. Ten were killed and about a hundred wounded. We were hurrying, picking up people and carrying them back to the union headquarters. My shirt was covered with blood from those I carried back.