The anarchists eagerly seized upon the dedication of the new Board of Trade Building at LaSalle and Jackson in April 1885 as a prime occasion to show their numbers in a symbolic assault on this quintessential capitalist institution. This illustration is from an article on the Haymarket trial written by the judge in the case. The article is discussed in Act V.

The call to the anarchist rally in Market Square deemed the Board of Trade "the grand temple of Usury, Gambling, and Cut-Throatism." At this rally, Albert Parsons told his cheering listeners, who numbered at least one thousand, that if they wanted their natural rights they should put aside part of their wages to "buy a Colt's navy revolver, a Winchester rifle, . . . and ten pounds of dynamite. Then raise the red flag of rebellion and strike down to the earth every tyrant that lives upon the globe." Parsons described dynamite as the great equalizer for the "weak and defenseless." He said it was a "peace-maker" in a world where force ruled, "because it makes it unsafe to wrong."

The demonstrators next set out in a procession to the board building a few blocks away, led by Lucy Parsons and Lizzie Holmes, who carried the red and black flags of revolution and anarchy. The demonstrators were prevented from getting close to the building by police commanded by Captain Frederick Ebersold, who would be superintendent by the time of Haymarket, and Lieutenant William Ward, who would give the order for the Haymarket meeting to disperse seconds before the bomb was thrown. The protestors then returned to the Arbeiter-Zeitung building for more speeches.

In a show of bravado that would prove to be damaging at the trial, following the rally Spies showed the press what the Chicago Tribune described as "a large piece of alleged dynamite and long piece of fuse which [Spies] said he had intended to place under the Board of Trade Building if he had been permitted to get near it." An unidentified man then supposedly pulled out "a huge six-shooter," while yet another showed reporters what he said was a cartridge of nitroglycerine, bragging that "every man in that parade had some of these." In his testimony at the trial, Marshall Williamson, who worked for the Daily News at the time of the dedication, told of Parsons showing off dynamite as well. According to Williamson, "Mr. Parsons told me that he had—or that there were some three thousand armed Socialists in the City of Chicago, that they were well armed with rifles and revolvers, and would have dynamite and bombs when they got ready to use them."

The anarchists hoped that their own "staged" event would trump the one sponsored by the board, though they were overmatched by the three-day dedication celebration attended by guests from all over the country. The festivities started with a grand promenade concert by the First Regiment Grand Orchestra and included a twenty-dollar-a-plate banquet (about four weeks' pay for an unskilled worker) for five hundred people at the Grand Pacific Hotel, in addition to the dedication ceremonies themselves.