Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day — International Workers' Day

The 1886 Haymarket Square Massacre. 
May 1st is International Workers' Day celebrated in more than 80 countries around the globe.

Ironically, it is not celebrated here, the country where it all began.

Solidarity For Ever!

In October 1884 the International Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions proclaimed May 1, 1886, as the day when the 8-hour work day would become the standard.

On that day, a Saturday, mass demonstrations in support of the 8-hour day took place around the country. Many workers went on strike. In Chicago, a bomb exploded killing police officers. The police responded and four civilians died. This incident became known as the Haymarket Riot or Haymarket Massacre. In ensuing trials 7 protesters were convicted and sentenced to death.

The riots, violence and convictions sparked protests and outrage around the world. Thus May Day, International Workers' Day, was born.

Today,  the Occupy movement would like to get May Day back on its native soil, with protests and demonstrations around the country.

Boston: An early 7 a.m. start kicks off a "Financial District Block Party," with "Anti-Capitalist" and "Solidarity" marches throughout the city. The evening event calls for a Death of Capitalism Street Theater Funeral Process that promises to travel "through areas of wealth and commerce"

New York: The pop-up occupation begins the night before, as people started a day early Bryant Park, opposite the Bank of America. Organizers promise to manifest its protests as art, "transforming [the city] into a living, walking exhibition" that includes choirs,dance brigades, even clowns. Guitarist and singer Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine tweeted out a call for 10,000 guitar players for a noon-day jam.

Atlanta: The Georgia capital started a day early at the Bank of America Plaza to protest a foreclosure. The May Day is designed as family friendly, with a 10:30 a.m.-1p.m. march from Troy Davis Park to downtown, then a six-hour party at Coan Park complete with childcare, "cookouts, workshops, film screening, and more." The May Day event follows on the heels of a public exchange: A local journalist published a long, "angry break up letter" about the "concentration of nuttery," and a response detailing Atlanta actions and vision statements.

Chicago: The city has already been dealing with protests due to the closure of half of its 12 public health clinics. The Chicago Spring site lists a morning plan to "close the banks which abused their bailout funds" before Union Park meeting, than a 1pm march to Federal Plaza.

Detroit: Motor City will have a later start with a noon assembly at Clark Park, and marches that will take protesters past schools, transportation stations, and the Federal Building before ending with a general assembly at Grand Circus Park.

San Francisco: A union disagreement nearly brought an occupation of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the span that connects San Francisco to Marin County in the north, but that high-profile maneuver has been averted. Golden Gate Ferry workers, however, will be walking out to call attention to contract disagreements over health care coverage, and morning service has been canceled.

Oakland: The city emerged as the West Coast response to New York. The Bay Area metropolis, which grafted an earlier anti-police movement with the 99% message, still listed a 6am occupation of Golden Gate Bridge on its main page as late as April 30, but a tentative schedule listed "anti-capitalist," "anti-patriarchy," and "anti-gentrification" brigades starting at 8:30am, with a downtown convergence, afternoon march, and an evening "reconvegernce."

Los Angeles: May Day has been the occasion for immigrant rallies in the City of Angels. This year, a "4-Winds Convergence" will emphasize labor themes and more through four caravans. After a 10 am rally, the caravans will take four separate routes to 6th and Main streets for a 2:30 meeting point, and later the financial district.

The world we build is the world our children, grandchildren and all those who follow shall inherit.

Solidarity For Ever!  Sung By Pete Seeger.


  1. Thanks much for the good reminder John.....Power to the People!

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