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HOW THE RIOT STARTED

Somebody Threw A Cucumber
and It Struck an Italian

Then there was a Rain of Paving Stones on Myrtle Avenue, and the Row Did Not Cease Until a Wagon Load of Police Interfered

Two parties of laborers were at work on Myrtle Avenue near Ryerson street yesterday afternoon. One of the gangs composed entirely of Italians were employed in repairing the street and the other party, all Irishmen the police say, were laying or repairing a main of the Nassau Gas company. There was some good natured banter indulged in the dinner hour but nobody was offended apparently. Some time later one of the gas men threw a cucumber at one of his fellows. The missile missed its mark and struck an Italian squarely in the face. He at once threw down his pickax, and picking up a paving stone threw it at the Irishman. That was the signal for a battle that will long stay green among the shopkeepers in the neighborhood.

The Irishmen armed themsleves with paving stones, which were plenty and loose, and the rain of dornichs* which fell on the Italian phalanx staggered them for just a minute. They returned to the change, and paving stones flew like hailstorms in a March storm.

“Kill the Dagoes,” shouted the gas laborers as they returned again and again for ammunition.

The Italians spoke excitedly in their own language except when they swore, and then they used the tongue of their adopted land. Two men were rendered helpless after the first attack, but the honors were evenly divided, for one was an Irishman and the other an Italian. A crowd soon collected and the spectactors began to take sides, threatening a general riot. A message was sent to the Flushing Avenue station in a hurry and soon a patrol wagon loaded with policemen put in an appearance.

The riot was nipped in the bud, the fighters dispersed and the police took charge of the wounded. Giovanni Renno, aged 38 years, who could not give his address, was found to have sustained a painful scalp wound. He was taken in an ambulance to the Homepathic hospital, where he is held as patient and prisoner. James McQueen, aged 26, of 235 One Hundred and Third street, New York, was struck in the face by a stone and his nose was seriously hurt. McQueen had his wounds dressed and he was arrested. Frank Garro, aged 23, of West avenue, East New York, was arrested as McQueen’s assailant.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 30, 1894

Philip Dray’s There Is Power In A Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America is available everywhere they ain’t hiding something from you.

Uncle Caz says: Josh White is gone, Dallas Penn has risen.

* more commonly ‘dornick’: a small loose stone, probably from the Gaelic dornóg.

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