National Hunger March
of 1932: The Minneapolis Demonstration
In the early 1930s, as the nation struggled during the Great
Depression, unrest over food spread across the country. In February 1931,
grocery stores in both Minneapolis and St. Paul were stormed by protesters who
made off with whatever food they could carry.
On November 21st, 1932 (the day before Thanksgiving),
several hundred demonstrators protested in a “Hunger March” outside
Minneapolis City Hall. The event was organized by the Minneapolis United Front
Winter Relief, one of many organizations from the era protesting the lack of
government aid for workers and families. While many of the marchers were local,
some were from western states and were passing through the area on their way to
a larger march planned in Washington D.C. in December.
When police attempted to break up the demonstration, the
protest turned violent. Protesters and police fought for half an hour and
reinforcements were called in from across the city to help contain the melee.
In the end, 18 protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct. The
demonstrators accused the police of unnecessary brutality, but in the end they
were convicted and sentenced to brief terms in the city’s workhouse. After a
number of hearings and appeals, the protesters were given a stay of their
sentences in August 1933.
This post was researched and written by James K. Hosmer Special Collections volunteer Nick Steffel. It is part of an ongoing series on the 125th anniversary of the Municipal Building.