Haymarket Cop in Exile (1-24-1972)

City officials were giving up the fight.  Chicago’s most controversial statue was being moved.  The Haymarket Cop was leaving Haymarket Square.

The story begins on the evening of May 4, 1886.  An outdoor labor rally was being held in Haymarket Square, at Randolph and Des Plaines.  A squad of police was present.  During the proceedings, someone threw a bomb.  The police started shooting.  When it was over, seven policemen and an undetermined number of civilians were dead.

Widely-circulated engraving of the Haymarket event

Widely-circulated engraving of the Haymarket event

In the aftermath, several labor leaders were arrested.  Four were later hanged.  For many in the labor movement, “Haymarket” became another name for judicial injustice.

Meanwhile, the city acted to honor the fallen cops.  A statue of a police captain, right arm upraised, was erected in Haymarket Square.  The base contained the words: “In the name of the people of Illinois, I command peace.”

The statue was later moved to Union Park.  In 1927 it was knocked off its base by a runaway streetcar.  Some accounts say the motorman had rammed the statue in protest.  Since the accident happened on the May 4 anniversary date, that explanation makes sense.

Haymarket statue under construction, 1889

Haymarket statue under construction, 1889

During the 1950s the statue was brought back to its original site.  The arguments about it appeared to have been forgotten.  The Haymarket Cop became something of a tourist attraction.

Then, beginning in 1968, the statue again became the focus of protest.  On anniversary day of that year, vandals smeared it with paint.  That was only a prelude.  In October 1969, members of the radical Weatherman group packed dynamite between the statue’s legs and blew it up.

Mayor Richard J. Daley was furious.  A new Haymarket statue was erected on May 4, 1970.  Five months later, this one was blown up.

Once more the statue was replaced.  To prevent another bombing, it was protected by a closed circuit TV monitor and a 24-hour police guard.

Now it was January 1972.  The city had decided that symbolism had been satisfied.  The police guard was an expensive waste of manpower.  The announcement was made that the Haymarket Cop’s new home would be Central Police Headquarters, at 11th and State.

As it happened, the statue was moved twice more.  From 1976 through 2007 it stood in the courtyard of the Police Training Academy on Jackson Boulevard.  And in 2007 the statue was relocated to its current location outside the new Central Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan.



4 Responses to “Haymarket Cop in Exile (1-24-1972)”

  1. 1 benson January 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Coincidentally, the Kent State shootings happened on May 4th, 1970.

  2. 2 J.R. Schmidt January 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Thanks. I do remember someone making that point just after the Kent State shootings, but I’d forgotten about it until you brought it up.

  3. 3 Joe O'Sullivan January 27, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    When I graduated the Chicago Police Academy Metro class in 1989, lots of recruits had their picture taken next to this statue, which was (safely) in the courtyard of the academy. Most of my classmates thought they were having their photo taken with a statue of Robert Peele.

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