Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Hard Hat Riots
Most U.S. history students learn about the Kent State Massacre (pictured below), which occurred on May 4th, 1970, when four students at Kent State University were shot to death by National Guard gunfire. It became the subject of the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song "Ohio." However, many students do not learn about the related Hard Hat Riots in New York City (which occurred on this date 43 years ago). Four days after the Kent State shootings, anti-war protesters held a rally near City Hall to memorialize the four dead Kent State students. In reaction, hundreds of area construction workers met the protesters with American flags and signs that read "I support Nixon and Our Soldiers" and "America, Love it or Leave it." After a short period of time, the construction workers attacked the anti-war protesters, eventually spreading their violence to nearby Pace College (now Pace University). Over 70 people were injured and very few were arrested. Later, Nixon would meet with the construction workers at the White House, as this group represented a very public response by the so-called "Silent Majority."
The National History Education Clearinghouse has a link to an excellent website that discusses the verious perspectives of the Hard Hat Riots: http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/website-reviews/22876