The Flint Sit-Down Strike Audio Presentation


Well, we didn't have any idea they were gonna attack with tear gas, in the first place, they saw this guy come down on [inaudible] and he rights about there and I didn't know who he was. First time he come in, he broke up the glass in the doors, big old glass. Then they shot tear gas in here out of twenty guage shot guns.

Well, fate was in our favor again because the wind was from the North, no the wind was in the South and they load the tear gas to the south, of course it exploded, why that, with the hoses, we got the hoses hooked up by the way, and we'd just keep sprayin' it like this here and the wind draft of the building, you see? And it blew that tear gas right back out in the [inaudible], right back out in the streets. Well then one of the guys, they see this [inaudible] well I got on of them old tear gas shells around someplace, it looks like a, looks like a great big capsule, kinda like this here, you see?

And uh, they'd catch that, you could see it comin' you know, they didn't travel very fast, so you could just about, where we were it was about the end of its travel, so we'd catch those things in our hands and throw em right back at em, you see?

Well then, just about enough life left in em so that by the time we threw em back they exploded over there, you see? So they had to quit using that. But um... anyway then after we opened up the doors - we demanded that they open the doors one time and they wouldn't, uh they wouldn't open them, I don't know, now that might of happened after we demanded they open, they open the doors too.

I demanded the key to open the door and they wouldn't give it to me so we kicked it down. But um... that may be after this incident here. But anway we got together after they, after they made the teargas attack, the first one. We got together, and said "now listen, we're in for a fight, we're in it all by ourselves, we're hemmed in, there is no out, it's do or die and make up your mind and do it right now. You guys that are gonna fight, get up here in the front and stay here, and you guys that don't wanna fight go back and hide." And a lot of them did.

But the ones that did, the minute the cops opened that door they rushed right out at em, everyone of them fightin' or at least they were swingin' their hands. Well these fellas had gas masks on and what have ya, they'd grab the gas mask and tear it off, they'd hit him in the jaw, they'd get his gun, we've got a couple guns from [inaudible] and we kicked a lot of gas masks off and everything else [inaudible] now don't forget. [inaudible]

We started overwhelmin' em, because normaly when police attacked a group of men like that, they do it today, two policmen will pick out one guy and they'll go for him, they ignore all these other people. These people ignore the policemen, and their just milling around. It's just like a tornado you know? There just going all over the place, they ain't doin' nothin' but paradin' why, they may take four or five policemen, they'll signal one particular fella. They don't care what these guys do, they ain't gonna do nothin' but mill around anyway.

I said "when you go in there, and you fellas, you get your sights on one cop." And it looks to me like there are about... and come to find out that we were out-numbered, I didn't know it, but I thought we were about even I did. I thought we were about fifty-fifty; I mean fifty of us and fifty of them, but it weren't.

You get your sights on one guy and you take him, and don't you pay no attention to the other fellas here because somebody else is gonna be watchin' that guy. So well, we went out there and that's what we did. Every man had a man, had a place for him to go and every man went there, you see? Well those guys, that surprised them. They turned tail and run, they say they couldn't do nothin' then.

Show Transcript Speaker: Roscoe Rich. Interviewed by U-M Flint Labor History Project. Date of interview: 7-6-1978. Edited by Michael Van Dyke.

Copyright: ©2002 Michigan State University.