This photo was originally published in the New York Times on May 9, 1970 with the caption: "IN FINANCIAL AREA: Hard-hatted construction workers breaking up an antiwar rally at the Subtreasury Building"

What is happening in this photograph?
Who were the participants?

Consider the following two sources:

The official New York Police Department report on the events of May 8, 1970

Heckling between the two groups intensified very rapidly, emotions became strained, and the construction workers, reinforced from the rear by some thousand vocal supporters from the Wall Street area, suddenly burst through the easterly terminus of the police line and negotiated the eastern portion of the front steps of the Federal National Memorial Building. The scene was described by commentators as resembling the raising of the American Flag at Iwo Jima.

Although portions of motion picture films of the incident depicted the presence of a large Viet Cong flag in the ranks of the peace demonstrators at the foot of the statue of George Washington, it could not definitely be established if it was so displayed at a time coincidental with the breaching of the police lines by the construction workers and their supporters, and the catalyst that caused their sudden surge.

Once atop the steps, the construction workers implanted a number of American flags on the pillars and on the statue of George Washington.

More police report on Wall Street events

Controversy over role of police


Construction worker Joe Kelly

"And then there just seemed to be a rush, a mob scene. The chant then was, 'Get the flags up on the steps where they belong. It's a Government building.' And they can say what they want about the New York Police Department, they coulda had the National Guard there with fixed bayonets and they would not have held the construction workers back then. When we first went up on the steps and the flags went up there, the whole group started singing 'God Bless America' and it damn near put a lump in your throat. It was really something. I could never say I was sorry I was there. You just had a very proud feeling. If I live to be 100, I don't think I'll ever live to anything quite like that again.

More on Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly's full account of Wall Street events