Events of May 14, 1902-Forward
In the thirty years of East European settlement in this quarter never have we seen the likes of this—thousands of women on tens of streets. They broke into butcher shops, swearing to strike and watching that their boycott be kept. In many stores, they flung meat onto the streets, came to blows with the butchers, and trampled on mountains of meat. In half an hour the strike spread from one block to the entire area. Out of every tenement poured brave striking women; every sidewalk was crowded with women, standing, gesticulating with their hands, screaming about their poverty and the swindle that had been perpetrated. Every so often patrol wagons full of arrested women passed; some of the women were bleeding. By 10 a.m. seventy women had been arrested.
They first approached a butcher at 51 Monroe Street. A girl walked out of the butcher’s with a package, and the housewives descended upon her, shouting, “If we can’t eat meat, the customers can’t eat meat.” [Ten women are arrested and their addresses listed, all Monroe Street]. One of the women called out, “They think women aren’t people, that they can bluff us. We’ll show them that we are more people than the fat millionaires who suck out blood!”
In court they called Rosa Peskin of 450 Cherry Street: “Did you throw meat on the street?” “Certainly,” she replied. “I should have looked it in the teeth?” The judge asks her, “What business is it of yours if others are willing to pay more for meat?” “Because it affects my pocket.” Three dollar fine. Then Rebecca Ablowitz of 420 Cherry Street: The judge states, “You have no permission to make a riot.” “We’re not rioting,” she answers. “Only see how thin our children are, our husbands have no more strength to work harder, if we stay home and cry, what good will that do us?”