Today in Labor History January 11, 532: One of the first documented sports hooligan riots escalated into a full-scale revolt against Emperor Justinian I in Constantinople. The Nika Riot began as a quarrel between fans of two different chariot teams, the Blues and the Greens. Over the course of a week, participants burned down nearly half of the city. Up to 30,000 people died. They were particularly angry at Justinian’s corruption, and the high taxes he levied on them.
Today in Labor History January 11, 1654: A Mapuche-Huiliches army defeated the Spanish in Southern Chile, during the Arauco War.
Today in Labor History January 11, 1804: The Sussex Examiner reported that the English authorities tried poet William Blake for saying “Damn the king and damn his soldiers.”
Today in Labor History January 11, 1911: Leonard Abbott, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman opened the first American Modern School in New York City. They modeled it after the Modern Schools that Francisco Ferrer had created in Spain.
Today in Labor History January 11, 1912: The Bread and Roses textile strike began in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The IWW organized and led this strike of 32,000 women and children after management slashed wages. A group of Polish women walked out after receiving their pay and realizing they’d been cheated. Others soon joined them. The strike lasted 10 weeks. Many sent their children to live with family, friends or supporters during the strike to protect them from the hunger and violence. Members of the Modern School took in many of these kids. During the strike, the cops kept arresting the women for loitering. So, they began to march as they protested. This was the first known use of the moving picket line.
Today in Labor History January 11, 1937: Police tried to raid the Fisher Body plant during the Flint Sit-Down Strike against General Motors. Workers threw hinges, bottles and bolts at the cops, effectively holding them off. However, the cops injured 14 strikers with gunfire. They had been occupying the plant for nearly two weeks. And they would continue their sit-down strike until February 11. They won a 5% raise and the UAW signed up 100,000 members in the wake of the strike.
January 11, 1943: American mobster, Carmine Galante, assassinated Carlo Tresca in New York City. He was an Italian-American newspaper editor, socialist labor organizer with the IWW, and outspoken critic of the Mafia, Stalinism and fascism. In 1937, he participated in the Dewey Commission, which cleared Trotsky of all charges made during the Moscow Trials.