A tear-gas canister was dropped from the second balcony of the Chicago civic Opera House on Wednesday (August 26th) during a performance by the Russian Moiseyev Dance Company.
A tear-gas canister was dropped from the second balcony of the Chicago civic Opera House on Wednesday (August 26th) during a performance by the Russian Moiseyev Dance Company. Police are looking for two young girls that they think may be responsible. A demonstration took place the same night outside the Opera House, sponsored by the Community Council of Jewish Organisations. But its leaders said they had nothing to do with the bombing incident.
More than 200 members of the newly-formed Community Council demonstrated outside the Opera House, chanting, and carrying placards with slogans in English and Russian. The Council represents 41 Jewish organisations, and is based in Chicago. The demonstrators said their idea was to point out to the dancers that three million Jews in the Soviet Union want to emigrate, on the grounds that they are being ill-treated. They hoped the dancers would take the message back to their leaders and people at home.
About 20 minutes after the performance started, someone threw down the tear-gas canister. It fell in a cascade of sparks, and at first most of the audience of 3,500 thought it was part of the show. But then smoke started to fill the theatre, and the people all filed out. There was no panic; some of them were slightly affected by the gas.
The alarm was raised, and firemen rushed to the Opera House. They had to wear masks to enter the smoke-filled auditorium.
Leaders of the Jewish Council that sponsored the demonstration outside denounced the bombing, and said they knew nothing about is beforehand and had no part in it.
The founder and director of the dance company, Igor Moiseyev, said afterwards that the company would carry on with six further performances at the Opera House which had already been arranged. An official of the Soviet Embassy made a protest to the State Department in Washington and received an apology.