Escambia County News Politics

May Day or Law Day?

April 17, 2012

The Escambia County Commission will consider today adopting a proclamation declaring May 1 as ‘Law Day.’ In recent history, the date has been celebrated as International Workers’ Day—commemorating an 1886 clash between police and striking workers, resulting in several deaths.

The proclamation the commission will consider designates May 1 as Law Day. It notes that the American justice system is charged with “upholding and protecting rights, as well as the freedom and justice, of all Americans” and also references the “Law Day 2012 theme, ‘No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.’

In 1961, the U.S. Congress issued a similar resolution declaring May 1 as Law Day. This national perspective is also noted in the local proclamation.

Alternatively, International Workers’ Day is the celebration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. As workers were striking in hopes of an eight-hour workday, someone lobbed a bomb into a group of police who were dispersing the crowd. Consequently, the police began firing into the crowd. A number of police and civilians died in the incident.

In the U.S., a number of attempts have been made to substitute a more authority-friendly holiday for International Workers’ Day. In 1921, the day was promoted as Americanization Day by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1949, it was renamed Loyalty Day. In 1958, the U.S. Congress declared Loyalty Day a national holiday.

That same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the date to be Law Day. Congress made it official in 1961.

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