1913 Italian Hall Disaster
On Christmas Eve 1913, striking mine workers and their families in Michigan were attending a union-sponsored Christmas celebration on the second floor of the local Italian Hall. Over 500 people were thought to be in attendance that evening when someone shouted “fire!” Even though there was no fire, the crowd panicked and surged toward the only set of stairs to the first floor. 73 people, including 59 children, were trampled in the stampede. A Supreme Court decision a few years later included the phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” in reference to the Italian Hall disaster and as an example of speech that isn’t protected by the Constitution.