We left early so that we would have time for some sightseeing. We went to a graveyard where we say a memorial monument of “the Haymarket martyrs” and the gravestone of Emma Goldman.
It felt a bit surreal to stand by and touch these objects that where symbolizing something I had only read or heard about. If only we could sometimes talk to the folks from the past. Z said something like, “Thats our advantage. We can hear, read and know about them but they’ll never talk about us”.
After trying to listen to Emmas cold stone for some advice, feeling a bit silly, I appreciated that there where monuments dedicated to these people. I want to respect the memory of them by remembering but not lingering in the past. Time makes things change and we have to reinvent ourselves with it.
Later we met with some new friends in the city that took us for a small tour in the van to show us some spots and tell us some stories of resistance. They pointed out where a huge prison was, we drove past it and apparently FBI headquarters should’ve been right behind it. They told us about police repressions a few years ago and how people where evicted and convicted for bullshit. We saw another Haymarket memorial statue. The stone platform it was lifted on was decorated with square plates from different workers unions from around the world. In a way it is impressing to think about the union organizing traditions that followed such historical events but I also feel sad that things have not gotten further. Maybe not even really changed, except for the face of exploitation. Why are we still not selling our labor just 2 hours a week? Why are we in wage-slavery at all?
On the way back we drove under the railroad and apparently there had been a battle against the police here in the late 1870s. Probably in the same wave of railroad workers strike as what we heard about in Pittsburgh. We turned right and followed the tracks for many kilometers. The wall under it was covered with murals, old and new, and many had a political story or message behind it. It also looked like some had been painted over with beige paint. I guess someone chose what is worth being seen or not. After slightly going through the “Czech neighborhood”, Pilsen, we came to the house where most of our lovely new friends lived and where the event would be at.
Soon, the place was filled with local fellow radicals, punks, queers, booktables and food made by several people. WOW! Such an energy in this street and in this house! Apparently they had just cleaned out their lowest floor so all the writings and posters on the walls, all the colours, furniture and books in the shelves, where just a few days fresh. It was nice to see how it was already welcoming for events, bands, gatherings and dinners…
The weather was nice and there was a rumour of a blood moon possibly appearing when darkness fell. So we invited everyone to sit outside instead and it became a very warm atmosphere. A deep and varied discussion followed with the 60 – 80 people that came. It was definetly a very very good night. I even felt like the discussion ended too fast so after we broke off to informal conversations I ran to several people, to catch them and have a chance to litsen and to tell them what had come to my mind.
After several plates of the various tasty food and meetings with people we had to get back on the road. So we all jumped into the van and I drove us away into the night…