Blogstress-fave Kathy Shaidle reminds us that yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the Hard Hat Riots–the day construction workers in New York City decided they’d had it with student radicals and the ultra-liberal administration of “Republican” Mayor John Lindsay, who bankrupted the city in order to create a massive citywide welfare empire that wasn’t really dismantled until Rudy Giuliani took office in 1994.
The last straw came when Lindsay ordered the American flag to be lowered to half-staff to commemorate the shooting deaths of some Kent State student radicals who ignored National Guard orders to cease and desist. Free Republic has the New York Times story from 35 years ago today:
Helmeted construction workers broke up a student antiwar demonstration in Wall Street yesterday, chasing youths through the canyons of the financial district in a wild noontime melee that left about 70 persons injured.
The workers then stormed City Hall, cowing policemen and forcing officials to raise the American flag to full staff from half staff, where it had been placed in mourning for the four students killed at Kent State University on Monday.
At nearby Pace College a group of construction workers who said they had been pelted with missiles by students from the roof, twice invaded a building, smashing windows with clubs and crowbars and beating up students.
Then came the moment of confrontation. The construction workers, marching behind a cluster of American flags, swept the policemen aside and moved on the students. The youths scattered, seeking refuge in the lunch-hour crowds.The workers sought them out, some selecting those youths with the most hair and swatting them with their helmets.
The workers led a mob to City Hall, where an unidentified mailman went to the roof and raised the flag that Mayor Lindsay had ordered lowered to half staff for the slain students. The crowd cheered wildly.
But moments later an aide to Mayor Lindsay, Sid Davidoff, stalked out on the roof and lowered the flag again.
The mob reacted in fury. Workers vaulted the police barricades, surged across the tops of parked cars and past half a dozen mounted policemen. Fists flailing they stormed through the policemen guarding the barred front doors.
Uncertain whether they could contain the mob, the police asked city officials to raise the flag. Deputy Major Richard R. Aurelio, in charge during the absence of Mayor Lindsay, who was at Gracie Mansion, ordered the flag back to full staff.
Two plainclothes policemen, Pat Mascia and Bob Rudion, and the City Hall custodian, John Zissel, walked out on the roof and struggled with the flapping lanyard.
As the flag went up, the workers began singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner. A construction worker yelled to the police: ‘Get your helmets off.’
Grinning sheepishly, about seven of the 15 police who were on the City Hall steps removed their helmets.
Needless to say, the radicals and the Lindsay administration were quite put out that the cops weren’t doing much that day about arresting the perpetrators. I say: drink a toast to these working-class men whose sons were probably among the firemen who lost their lives by the dozen at the World Trade Center towers rescuing and trying to rescue the victims of the 9/11 massacre.