Left Wing Terrorism in the United States
Left Wing terrorism in the United States began in the mid 19th century and started to grow in influence as anarchists infiltrated the American labor unions, activating an anarcho-communist movement as well as campaigning for a Red Revolution and championing diverse social reforms in the early 20th century.
- 1 Haymarket bombing
- 2 Assassination of President William McKinley
- 3 Union Square bombing
- 4 Milwaukee Police Station bombing
- 5 Chicago Federal Building bombing
- 6 1919 May Day mail bombs
- 7 1919 June bombing campaign
- 8 Wall Street bombing
- 9 Attempted assassination of President Franklin Roosevelt
- 10 Weather Underground Organization
- 11 2011 to the present
- 12 See also
- 13 References
By the time of the Haymarket bombing, Chicago had become a hotbed of anarchist activity with five newspapers published in the city with a circulation exceeding 30,000.
On May 3, Chicago police fired into a crowd of unarmed, but rock-throwing stikers, shooting two men. On May 4, 1886, further labor protests near Chicago's Haymarket Square turned into a riot after an anarchist threw a bomb at a 180-strong police column under Captain John Bonfield, killing seven officers and wounding seventy.
The policemen killed were Patrolmen Mathias Degan, Patrolman John Barrett, Patrolman George Miller, Patrolman Timothy Flavin, Patrolman Thomas Redden, Patrolman Nels Hansen and Patrolman Michael Sheehan.
After the bombing, the police arrested Samuel Fielden, an Englishman, and six German immigrants, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab. The police also sought the arrest of fugitive Albert Parsons, the leader of the International Working Peoples Association in Chicago. However, on the morning of the trial, Parsons arrived in court to defend himself.
All the men were found guilty: Parsons, Spies, Fischer, Lingg and Engel were given the death penalty. Whereas Neebe, Fielden and Schwab were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 10th November, 1887, Lingg committed suicide by exploding dynamite in his mouth. The following day Parsons, Spies, Fisher and Engel were hanged in the county jail at Chicago.
Many workers complained that the condemned had not been given a fair trial and in 1893, John Peter Altgeld, the new governor of Illinois, pardoned Neebe, Fielden and Schwab.
Assassination of President William McKinley
On September 6, 1901, US President William McKinley was shaking hands at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him and fired two shots into the president's chest.
Union Square bombing
New York's first terrorist attack took place in March 1908, when a Russian-born anarchist, Selig Silverstein, threw a bomb as police countered Socialist demonstrators from Union Square. The bomb exploded prematurely, mortally wounding Silverstein and wounding several policemen.
A series of bombings followed in 1914 and 1915, with explosions at St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church on West Broadway, the Bronx Court House, the Tombs Police Court and the Police Headquarters on Centre Street.
Milwaukee Police Station bombing
On November 24, 1917, nine Milwaukee Police officers were killed in a bomb blast at their police station. In the evening, a suspicious package was discovered alongside the Italian Evangelical Church in downtown Milwaukee. A woman had discovered the package, and a boy named Sam Mazzone took it to the police station. As detectives examined the package it exploded, killing nine police officers. The officers killed were Patrolman Henry Deckert and Detectives Frank Caswin, Fred Kaiser, David O'Brien, Stephen H. Stecker, Charles Seehawer, Edward Spindler, Al Templin and Paul Weiler.
In the wake of the police station bombing, a Milwaukee district attorney sought immediate revenge, with 11 anarchists in custody at the time of the attack convicted of assault with intent to commit murder, and sentenced to a minimum of eleven and a maximum of twenty-five years in prison.
Chicago Federal Building bombing
On September 4, 1918, an unidentified anarchist threw a bomb into the Adams Street entrance of the Chicago Federal Building, site of the mass trial of ninety-three defendants accused of revolutionary and antiwar activity. The explosion killed four, including postal workers Edwin Kolkow and William Wheeler, and wounder dozens of others.
1919 May Day mail bombs
In 1919, with bitter industrial strikes and the founding of two American Communist parties in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Left-Wing bombings resumed after a four-year truce. In late April, sixteen mail bombs were mailed to dignitaries and industrialists, including J. P. Morgan Jr., Mayor John Hylan and Police Commissioner Richard Enright in New York.
All but one of the mail bombs were intercepted and defused; the exception blowing off the hands of the maid of former Georgia senator Thomas Hardwick in Atlanta.
1919 June bombing campaign
In June 1919, bombs ripped apart a Philadelphia church rectory and the homes of eight officials and manufacturers across the US, including that of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in Washington. The only fatality of the leftist bombings was a security guard on the East Sixty-First Street premises of New York Judge Charles Nott, who had sentenced two prominent anarchists to prison in 1915. Each bomb came with a pink pamphlet titled "Plain Words", which stated the following:
War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge; there will have to be murder: we will kill, because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.
Wall Street bombing
On September 16, 1920, a wagon loaded with a bomb containing dynamite and 500 pounds of small iron weights exploded outside 23 Wall Street, the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co., the United States' most powerful bank. Thirty people died as a result of the explosion. Another eight died later from the wounds they sustained. Hundreds were injured, some by shrapnel on the street, others by the glass that rained down from the broken windows of the J.P. Morgan building.
Despite a three-year investigation, those responsible for the attack were never been officially confirmed. In 1944, however, the FBI reopened the investigation and concluded that Italian-born anarchists were behind the attack—the group having been responsible for a number of bombings across the United States in 1919.
Attempted assassination of President Franklin Roosevelt
On February 15, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was giving a speech in Bayfront Park in the city of Miami, Florida where anarchist Giuesseppe Zangara was living, working the occasional odd job, and living off his savings. Zangara took a .32 caliber pistol, purchased at a local pawn shop, and joined the crowd.
However, being only five feet tall, he was unable to see over other people and had to stand on an unsteady, folding, metal chair to get a better aim at his target. After the first shot a woman jostled his arm and he fired five more shots into the crowd. Zangara missed the president elect.
Five other people were hit including Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak who was sitting next to Roosevelt. En route to the hospital, Cermak had allegedly told the US president, "I'm glad it was me and not you, Mr. President."
Cermak died of complications brought about by abdominal wounds 19 days later, on March 6, 1933, two days after Roosevelt's inauguration, the only fatality of the shootings.
Only two weeks later, on March 20, 1933, Zangara was executed in Old Sparky, the electric chair at Florida State Penitentiary after being convicted of Cermak's murder.
Weather Underground Organization
The Weather Underground Organization or WUO, also known as the Weather Underground, was left-wing terrorist organization founded in 1968 from students of the University of Michigan. According the organization's 1970 "Declaration of War" against the United States, its goal was to "lead white kids into armed revolution." In 1970, a San Francisco policeman is killed by a Weatherman bombing and a massive nail-bomb set to explode during a New York Police dance, detonates prematurely, killing two Weathermen.
By the mid-1970s, the WUO claimed credit for over twenty-four bombings in the United States. On October 20, 1981, a security guard (Peter Paige) and two New York policemen (Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brownare) were shot dead during a Weatherman/Black Liberation Army robbery of a Brinks armored car.
2011 to the present
Under the presidency of Barack Obama, the radical "black lives matter" movement has openly engaged in anti-white voter intimidation. Its members openly call for the murder of policemen and president elect Donald Trump. In addition, the Occupy Wall Street crowd also engaged in some terrorist actions, including a bomb threat at Occupy Fort Myers on November 20, 2011 which was uncovered on Facebook, as well as attempted firebombings in Seattle and a bomb threat on the Cleveland Bridge, both of which on May Day of 2012.
On July 7, 2016, former soldier Micah Xavier Johnson gunned down police officers in downtown Dallas, leaving five of them dead. In addition to the five officers who died, seven officers and two civilians were wounded. Johnson specifically set out to kill as many white officers as he could, officials said. Others reported they had found no evidence that Johnson had direct ties to any protest or political group, either peaceful or violent, but his Facebook page showed that he supported "black lives matter".
- Haymarket Bombing
- Haymarket Riot
- New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham, Steven H. Jaffe, Basic Books, 2012
- November 24, 1917: Milwaukee police station bombing
- Chicago Bombs
- SIXTEEN BOMBS ARE MAILED TO AS MANY MEN OF PROMINENCE
- Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02604-1 (1991), pp. 140–143, 147, 149–156, 181–195
- At the time, the Presidential term started in March. The Twentieth Amendment shifted the start date for all subsequent terms to January 20.
- Five Dallas Officers Were Killed as Payback, Police Chief Says