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Rebel Yells

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As revolution raged in Russia and capitalism roared at home, America’s own Communist Party chose Union Square—a depressed, working-class area with, incidentally, a rousing name—as its organizing hub, holding frequent rallies there through the 1920s and ’30s. Protest became feverish in 1927 with a demonstration against the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrants and anarchists whose murder trial was internationally viewed as an indictment of radical politics. In May 1929, the Communists led a large demonstration to “fight police terror” at rallies. The following March, four months after the stock market crash, the party and affiliated unions called the jobless to Union Square—The Daily Worker reported that over 100,000 unemployed New Yorkers demonstrated. By the mid ’30s, the Union Square Centennial Committee formed and hung American flags, ostensibly to fight a Red Square image. Still, the rallies rolled on, tapering off in the early ’50s with the decline of the party and the rise of suburbia.

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