Bay View Massacre
Wisconsin Historical Marker
The Bay View Massacre (sometimes also referred to as the Bay View Tragedy) was the culmination of events that began on Saturday May 1, 1886 when 7,000 building-trades workers joined with 5,000 Polish laborers who had organized at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to strike against their employers, demanding an eight-hour work day.
By Monday, these numbers had increased to over 14,000 workers that gathered at the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill in Bay View. They were met by 250 National Guardsmen under order from Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk to "shoot to kill" any strikers who attempted to enter. Workers camped in the nearby fields and the Kosciuszko Militia arrived by May 4. Early the next day the crowd, which by this time contained children, approached the mill and were fired upon. Seven people died as a result, including a thirteen-year-old boy. Several more were injured during the protest.
Since 1986, members of the Bay View Historical Society, the Wisconsin Labor History Society, and other community groups have held a commemorative event to honor the memories of those killed during the incident. The event is held at the State Historical Marker site at the intersection of Superior Street and Russell Avenue, within view of the former rolling mill location.
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