molasses post

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Katie Hargrave and Heath Schultz / Molasses Flood: an insignificant memorial action for the scapegoats of history

On January 15th, 1919, a tank of boiling molasses owned by the Purity Distilling Company exploded in the North End neighborhood of Boston. Over one hundred people were injured, and 21 killed by the molasses, which moved at a rate of 35 miles per hour through the densely packed neighborhood.

The North End of Boston is a historically Italian-American neighborhood. Amongst fear of spreading anarchism throughout the community, the owners of the Purity Distilling Company attempted to blame a terrorist Italian-anarchist cell for the disaster. Though lengthy court battles found Purity Distilling Company to be responsible, the event is one of many events throughout the United States for which anarchists were blamed during that period.

In an attempt to meditate on the event dubbed "the Molasses Flood," we poured the sticky sweetener (used in the creation of munitions and rum as well) onto the ground where the event occurred ninety years past. It moved just slowly enough from our store-bought bottles to allow a meditation on the event as well as on the discrimination of Italian-Americans and Anarchists in the US. But this insignificant memorial action was washed away with the first rain.

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