Equi was of a different mind. Earlier that day, she had motored around the city with an opposite message, daring for its difference. Then she steered her way in to the parade route and approached the jubilant, patriotic crowd. She had mounted an American flag at the front of her automobile, but strapped on the side was a white banner that warned,” Prepare to Die, Workingman – J.P. Morgan & Co. Want Preparedness for Profit – Thou Shalt Not Kill.” With brazen courage, she rolled into the march behind the Knights of Columbus and the local bar association, two contingents known for their preparedness fervor. Quick and fierce, the marchers attacked. According to Equi, the attorneys struck first, yanking the banner from her and striking her with it.
A mob of 50 angry men surrounded and taunted her
“I was scratched and bruised, and my hand bled,” she said. “They tore the banner to shreds and stomped on it.” At one point, a mob of fifty angry men surrounded and taunted her, yelling, “That’s what we do to your banner, now here’s ours.” The men thrust the American flag into her hands, daring her to rip it. Equi later admitted to tearing two strips from it saying, “Your flag is no protection to me.” She put up a fight until the police intervened and arrested her and two of the men.
Excerpted from MARIE EQUI: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions, available at bookstores and online. For more info: michaelhelquist.com
What impresses and inspires me about this incident is Marie Equi’s courage and passion. Three years earlier police arrested her for protesting in a labor strike. At the station, the police brutally interrogated her. She knew she could not count of police to protect her in another street fight. She knew men might beat her up again. But she pushed her way into the parade, one dissenter among 15,000, because she believed strongly in the anti-war cause.