The newspapers blared the headlines: thousands of America Firsters and anti-immigrant bigots gathered in front of a building that should have been a symbol of free speech. The racists, fueled by economic distress brought on by rising income inequality, tried to storm the building. Of course the protesters wore their stupid hats so they could recognize each other. And then the riot began…Who would have thought that in the month of May 1849 that a performance of a Shakespearean play could be so contentious?
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the rest of what happened during the Astor Place Riot by tuning into this talk I gave on Arts Express, broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.