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Culture

July 2, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

Sixteen people were wounded, seven of them critically — including one police officer — in a race riot that occurred between Italians and Irish on East 15th Street in New York City. The cause of the riot is thought to be old neighborhood grievances. Children started initial arguments, but soon their families joined them. The main site of destruction was an Italian-owned grocery store on East 15th Street and Avenue C, which was completely destroyed and its owner nearly killed. Clubs and knives tore through the air, and bullets whizzed about like flies. The Irish fought with clubs and guns, and the Italians with daggers and rocks. Ten assailants from each side were arrested.

75 YEARS AGO

A call to battle on the Forward’s front page: “Cloakmakers! Today, July 2, at exactly 10 a.m., begins a general strike in the cloak industry, which will continue until the manufacturers and jobbers give in to the demands of our International. All workers — cutters, operators, finishers, pressers, sample makers, examiners and buttonhole makers — are requested to leave their shops today at 10 a.m. and march together, each shop as one group, to the halls that the strike committees have prepared for them. Upon leaving the shops, take your tools. Those who do not follow this strike order will be considered scabs and traitors to the cloakmakers and their families. Brother and Sister Cloakmakers! Today is one of the most important days in the history of our industry and in the lives of Jewish workers in America.”

45-year-old David Bernstein of Essex Street in New York City was sentenced to three years in prison for forcing his 7-year-old son to pretend he was a cripple and beg for money on the street. Bernstein would rent his son for $3 a day to Division Street resident Harry Waters, a black man, who pushed the boy around in a wheelchair. Passersby would often put change into the outstretched hand of the “pathetic cripple.” It is alleged that Bernstein organized a syndicate of such “cripples,” netting him more than $100 per day.

50 YEARS AGO

In spite of an official U.N. truce, Jordanian Arab Legion soldiers have been firing into the Jewish half of Jerusalem from their positions in the Old City. Dozens of Jews have been wounded, and one woman was killed. Mortars and hand grenades also have been lobbed into the Israeli side of Jerusalem from the Jordanian side. Initially, the Israelis did not respond. However, after a day of attacks, they began to shoot back. Fearing an escalation, the U.N. has asked both the Israelis and the Jordanians, each of who blames the other, to respect the truce.

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