March 07, 2007

Today in Automotive History

1932 : Communists protest at Ford

Harry Bennett, head of Ford's secret service, is helped up at the riotsThe Communist Party of America organized the "March on Hunger"; the procession traveled from downtown Detroit to the Ford Motor Company's River Rouge Plant in order to protest the company's labor record. When police and firemen were unable to disperse the thousands gathered at River Rouge, Ford strongman Harry Bennet, notorious for his mob tactics of labor management, ordered his "servicemen" to quell the crowd with fire hoses. Defying the freezing temperatures and icy water, the crowd refused to give up its protest. Bennet, who ruled Ford's enterprise with nothing short of terrorist tactics, confronted the crowd, ordering them to disperse once and for all. The determined crowd, unaware that they were faced with their nemesis, began to shout, "We want Bennet. And he's in that building." Bennett corrected their mistake, and for his trouble he was showered with bricks and slag pieces. He was struck in the head during the barrage. Before he fell to the ground, the combat-ready Bennett pulled Joseph York, a Young Communist League organizer, to the ground on top of him. Seeing Bennett bleeding profusely from his head, the police opened fire on the unarmed protesters. York and three other protesters were killed. Ford's trouble with labor unions came to a head five years later when Roosevelt's New Deal guaranteed the workers the right to join a union. Again Bennett would be at the center of a violent confrontation at the River Rouge complex.

Posted by Quality Weenie at March 7, 2007 08:20 AM | TrackBack