Sometimes more than one event happens that can be summed up using the same catchy phrase. Such is the case for the term “Bloody Sunday.” This term is used to describe numerous events in world history. Here are the three of the events that are most commonly called “Bloody Sunday.”
Bloody Sunday #1: The Everett Massacre
On Sunday, November 5, 1916, 300 members of the Industrial Workers of the World (also known as the “Wobblies”) left Seattle on two steamers-the Verona and the Calista. They were en route to Everett, Washington. There was to be a protest in Everett that day. The goal of said protest was to draw attention and support to the “Wobblies” goal of forming “One Big Union.”
During the months and years leading up to this protest, there had been union and labor issues in the area. Violence had broken out between union members and deputies before. However, it was going to reach a much greater scale on Everett’s “Bloody Sunday.”
Authorities in Everett had been told that a large group of anarchists was coming into their town with the intent of burning it. In response, 200 citizen deputies were sent to the dock where the union workers were set to disembark. When the Verona arrived, Sheriff Donald McRae informed the passengers that they would have to leave. As quickly as the confrontation had begun, it had escalated. Someone fired a weapon and a gunfight ensued.
There was such panic aboard the Verona that the steamer almost capsized when her passengers scrambled to the far side of the deck. The captain soon realized what was happening and did his best to get the ship away from the dock as soon as possible. He eventually succeeded and the battle was over. An official count of seven people were dead (2 deputies and 5 “Wobblies) and 47 were wounded. There is some speculation that as many as 12 “Wobblies” were killed, however.
No one knows who fired the shot or what side it came from. In the aftermath, more than 70 people were arrested. However, because of the controversy surrounding Everett’s “Bloody Sunday,” only one man was charged with murder. He was eventually acquitted.
Bloody Sunday #2: The First March From Selma
During the Civil Rights Movement, protest and violence were shockingly commonplace. Looking back, it is hard for many of us to understand why any of it was necessary. Why were equal rights even a matter of debate? No matter how hard it is for us to understand, however, that is the way it was.
For roughly 600 people in Selma, Alabama, protesting on Sunday, March 7, 1965, was a way to have their voices heard and possibly heeded. Their method? A march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama. Their goal? Equal voting rights for whites and African-Americans. It is important to note that they were a completely peaceful group of protesters. In fact, non-violence was one of the main themes of their march.
State troopers were sent to meet the protesters near the border of Selma. The troopers informed the protesters that they had two minutes to leave. Even before the two minutes was up, the peaceful crowd was attacked with clubs, tear gas and whips. Even the horses some of the troopers were riding were used as weapons. None of the protesters fought their attackers.
Thankfully, there were no deaths as a result of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday.” However, there were numerous injured. In an odd way, the protesters got their message across. The violence made the march national news. That very same year, “blacks” were given equal voting rights.
Bloody Sunday #3: The Bogside Massacre
On Sunday, January 30, 1972, a crowd of thousands of protesters gathered in the Bogside district of Derry, Northern Ireland to march in protest of the internment laws and torture methods of British occupants. The protest had been organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. At the time, protests/marches had been declared illegal by the British. Therefore, the British army was sent in to stop the march.
The march met with a barricade that had been set up to divert the protesters to Free Derry Corner, where they could hold their protest gathering. Some of the protesters followed the instruction of the military personnel stationed at the barricade and went peacefully on to Free Derry Corner. Others decided to stay behind and argue about it. Eventually, rocks were thrown at the soldiers and the remaining protesters were gassed and attacked with a water canon.
Thus far, they reaction of the British soldiers was standard. Yes, they should not have been there to begin with, but peaceful protesters do not throw rocks and those that do, tend to have riot control methods used against them. However, what happened next was anything but standard. What happened next is something for which the British are still apologizing. It is something that was admittedly unnecessary and ultimately tragic.
When the crowd that had been gassed began to disperse, some of them moved toward Free Derry Corner. The soldiers followed them. Suddenly, the soldiers were assuming firing positions and opening fire into the crowd. Fourteen people were killed and fourteen were injured. Not one of them was armed. This incident was the inspiration for the hit U2 song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”
Looking at all of the events that can be described as “Bloody Sunday”-and are-you get the feeling that Sundays are notoriously bloody. Unfortunately, that is not the case. You could come up with hundreds of bloody days for every day of the week, were you to dig into history enough. Unfortunately, our history on Earth is a rather bloody one.
The Everett Massacre, retrieved 7/2/10, epls.org/nw/dig_emassacre.asp
The First March From Selma, retrieved 7/2/10, americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_selma_1.html
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, retrieved 7/2/10, freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irelandlist/sunbsun.html