Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Emma Goldman arrested on E. 4th Street?

Yup, it is true. A century ago, this stretch of E.4th Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue was an important epicenter of New York City's labor union movement -- and a popular public forum for the anarchists, socialists, and other "-ists" that helped fuel the work-force's fire. (Eh, figuratively... in most cases.)

On October 30, 1906, already-prominent anarchist Emma Goldman was preparing to speak at 66-68 E.4th Street (now part of LaMama, then called Lyceum Hall), during an event which was organized to protest police suppression of free speech at a previous meeting. However, Goldman was arrested, along with ten others, during opening remarks by guest speakers -- she never had the chance to take the podium.

In one account of the story1, Goldman was charged with "criminal anarchy" for distributing copies of Mother Earth magazine. In another account2, Goldman was charged with "unlawful assembly for the purpose of overthrowing the government."

Either way, all charges in Goldman's case were dropped by 1907, and she got her chance to speak at the Lycum again on November 11, 1907 - along with longtime partner, Alexander Berkman3. No incidents were reported.

  1. A book reference to the arrest
  2. PBS American Experience time line
  3. See poster from November 11, 1907 event

PS: Thanks to FAB for letting LESHP post some history to the blog. We would be interested in your feedback, input, and experience regarding any of the articles/topics we present.

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