Fifty-two Americans had been held hostage for almost five months at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. And in late April, a rescue attempt failed, killing eight.
As the protestors moved toward Public Square chanting Marxist and pro-Iranian slogans, they were followed by counterprotestors, shouting "U.S.A., U.S.A.," according to the May 2 Plain Dealer.
Police in riot gear attempted to keep the peace. The situation echoed those of 61 years before, when a clash between left- and right-leaning protestors incited the 1919 May Day riots that claimed two lives.
As the Communists gathered around the statue of Mayor Tom L. Johnson, which had been doused in red paint the night before, they were surrounded.
Quickly, curses and rocks flew back and forth. Fists followed.
Hecklers wrestled banners from the Communists — one read "Jesus, the Only True Communist," according to The Cleveland Press — and burned them, cheering.
To separate the groups a unit of mounted police rode through the crowd twice. Soon, all were spent.
The lunchtime brawl resulted in no serious injuries.