After ‘Bloody Friday,’ New York Wonders if Wall Street Is Becoming a Battleground

Reference: George Mason University

Wall Street Journal
May 11, 1970

A bloody melee last Friday, in which construction workers rampaged over antiwar protesters to the cheers of businessmen and office workers, threatens to have designated the heart of New York’s financial district as a battleground for extremists of both sides.

Even now it isn’t fully clear what went wrong–whether there weren’t enough police to maintain order or whether they let their own sympathies with the construction men outweigh their duties. What is known is that at least 300 helmeted workmen, some armed with lead pipes and crowbars, ranged freely through the financial district for almost three hours, attacking protesters and those who sought to help the injured.

“We came here to express our sympathy for those killed at Kent State and they attacked us with lead pipes wrapped in American flags,” said Drew Lynch, a 19-year-old employee of the city’s Human Resources Administration, who came away with a black eye and a split lip.

At Trinity Church, where volunteer doctors and medical students treated about 60 victims in a makeshift hospital at the head of Wall Street, the vicar, the Rev. Donald Woodward, locked the gates to prevent worker mobs from entering. The surly crowd ripped down a Red Cross banner and tried to remove the Episcopal Church flag.

In a week of nationwide protests, including a massive march on Washington, the incidents on Wall Street proved to be by far the bloodiest since four students were killed at Kent State University. And the Mayor’s office, which branded Friday’s melee on Wall Street as “a breakdown of the police as a barrier between (the people of New York) and wanton violence,” is bracing for the prospect that inflamed tempers on both sides may draw battlers to the same site for another showdown today.

Late yesterday, city vans unloaded barricades in front of the Subtreasury Building and along Broad Street. One police official said they were “in anticipation” of a possible renewal of Friday’s violence. The police department is girding for trouble, he said, with some patrolmen’s days off being canceled and additional police being available for deployment. “I imagine we’ll be overloaded with police” in the district, he commented.

To continue reading, please click here.