Above: The trucks stopped, and police started firing shots during Bloody Friday on July 20, 1934. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)
Eighty-one years after striking truckers and police clashed on the streets of the Warehouse District, wounding 67 strikers and leaving two of them dead, a plaque will formally mark the location of that watershed moment in Minneapolis' labor history.
The commemorative plaque will be unveiled at an event on July 18 at 11 a.m. It will be installed on the side of the Sherwin Williams building on 3rd Street North, the spot where police shot and killed striker Henry Ness on July 20, 1934.
The violence of July 20 was one of several major events during the strike of 1934, which centered around a unionization effort by truckers across the city under the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
A group called Remember 1934 raised the funds to pay for the plaque, which group member Keith Christensen said will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. The effort began last spring, but really took off after the group's street festival commemorating the 80th anniversary of the event.
“At the end of the day, I think it was important to recognize it visually," Christensen said. "That’s what I think it does. It gives it a placemarker. There really isn’t [one] for this event. And I think it’s that important.”
The night before the incident, police decided they would take it upon themselves to begin moving goods again, according to the book "Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century." Police first brought two trucks to the Slocum Bergren Company, loaded goods and left. In the afternoon, a third truck left a wholesaler with a heavily armed police escort. As unarmed strikers attempted to stop it, police opened fire and a bloody battle ensued.
Above: A rendering of how the plaque will look after it is installed.
“It was the galvanizing event. It really pushed over the top and led to a successful conclusion to the strike," Christensen said.
Another major incident during the strike, known as Deputies Run, occurred a month earlier in the market district. Strikers there used blunt instruments in a battle with police and their deputies, aimed at winning control of the market. Deputized business owner Arthur Lyman was killed in the violence, while special policeman Peter Erath died several days later.
That event will be harder to commemorate with a plaque, however, as it took place in the approximate location of where Target Field stands today. Dave Riehle with Remember 1934 said that event primarily took place on 2nd Avenue North between 5th and 6th Streets.
The plaque describes the overall importance of the strike in the city's labor history.
"The strike established the industrial form of union organization for the first time in the trucking industry and set the stage for massive organizing that eventually transformed the International Brotherhood of Teamsters into a union of more than one million members," it reads.