Christian Meyer was a painter and trade-unionist in New York City in the 1870s. In January 1874, he attended a labor protest in Tompkins square which broke out into the Tompkins Square riot when police ordered the crowd to disperse and began to attack protesters with clubs and mounted charges. During the attack, Meyer rallied to the banner of the Tenth Ward Working Men's Association. A squad of twenty-five police advanced on the crowd around the banner, and police sergeant Berghold attacked Meyer, at which point he struck the Sergent back with a claw-hammer strapped to his hand. In retaliation, the police beat Meyer until his wrist broke and arrested him.
New York Times
From "Defeat of the Communists: The Mass-Meeting and Parade Broken Up," in the New York Times, January 14, 1874.
- Capt. Walsh, with Sergts. Cass and Berghold and twenty-two men, made for the largest crowd, assembled round a banner inscribed "The Tenth Ward Working Men's Organization," and here there was a fray, in which Sergt. Berghold had his head broken, and his assailants fared no better. They told their stories afterward at the Sventeenth Precinct Station-house, corner of Fifth street and Second avenue, where they were conveyed, and at which thenceforward the interest centered. Christian Meyer, who struck the Sergeant, confessed his misdeeds with much naivete, as he was sitting with head bandaged and a broken wrist in a sling in the officers' quarters. He said he was a painter by trade, belonging to an association with 3,000 members; that there were about 100 of them only present; that every one was armed in some way, his own weapon being a claw-hammer, with a thong to put his hand through; and that they had orders not to fight unless they were attacked. The Sergeant pushed him, so he obeyed orders and hit the Sergeant. Justus Schwab, another captive, who wore a red flag around his waist, said his father had served four years' imprisonment for riot at Frankfort, Germany: that he had been four years and eight months in the country, and fourteen weeks out of work. He thought every man should defend the State, and that the State should provide for every man. He thought the working men would triumph, and commenced to sing the Marseillaise, a performance which was checked. On Hofflicher, another leader, was found a somewhat elaborate Communistic badge. The vicinity of the station-house for several blocks was thronged until quite late in the afternoon, and in the Bowery as far down as Canal street, knots of men were gathered on the corners as late as 2 o'clock, waiting for the procession. In the vicinity of the Seventeenth Precinct Station-house the task of dispersing the multitude kept the officers well employed. There were incessant skirmishes in which clubs were judiciously applied with seasonable but not excessive severity, and prisoners were continually being brought in. The scrambles of the mob as the officers advanced were not unamusing; in fact, it seemed as if they rather enjoyed the exercise. The housetops and windows for blocks were crowded with patient spectators. . .