For nearly 150 years, May 1 has been an international occasion to celebrate and defend the rights of the working class. This year, with the Occupy movement taking full advantage of May Day’s historic significance, we’re likely to see the greatest explosion of outrage at the excesses of capital since the first mass May Day protest in the United States in 1886, when more than 300,000 workers nationwide walked off their jobs in solidarity with 120,000 laborers striking on behalf of an eight-hour workday.
In her new post, Allison Kilkenny reports on the hopes and ideas behind the day’s action, details the coalition-building that has gone into the many months of planning and preparation and usefully defines what Occupy activists mean when they talk of a “General Strike.”
In New York City, starting at 8 am, Bryant Park will be the site of a “Pop-up Occupation“ featuring free food, a free market, free services, skillshares, workshops, teach-ins, speak-outs, public art, performances, discussions and direct-action trainings. At noon, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello will lead a guitar workshop and rehearsal for the Occupy Guitarmy. At 2 o’clock, activists, led by Morello and the Occupy Guitarmy, are expected to march to Union Square Park. After a concert and rally at the historic site of so many past radical calls to action, participants will leave Union Square at 5:30 for a permitted march to Wall Street with a coalition of organized labor, immigrant rights groups and faith-based activists.
The most militant of the Occupy groups, Occupy Oakland, is planning to occupy the Golden Gate Bridge at 6 am followed by a series of direct actions facilitated at three announced strike stations: the anti-capitalist station at Snow Park, the anti-patriarchy station at 1st & Broadway and the anti-gentrification at 22nd & Telegraph. (There’s also a fourth station that is not being advertised.) All morning pickets, occupations and autonomous actions are expected to leave from these locations from 8:30 am until the reconvergence at noon. The Strike Stations should be active and will offer free sustenance like food, snacks, water, coffee and medical supplies. At 3 pm there’ll be a broad march starting at the Fruitvale BART station.
For a long time, May Day has been a big day for immigrants rights in Los Angeles. That history will color this year’s actions. Occupy Los Angeles is organizing around a “4 Winds” People’s Power Car and Bike Caravan through the urban sprawl of Los Angeles that will culminate with Direct Action in and around the downtown Financial District. The caravans will stop at flashpoints along the way. Flash occupations, food giveaways, and other direct actions targeting the foreclosure crisis and police brutality will be undertaken on a “slow, city-paralyzing, carnival-esque descent” into the center of the city. Check this map to find a “wind” near you.
In Boston, a major coalition will gather at noon at City Hall Plaza; Later people will mass at 7 pm at Copley Square Park to put on costumes, puppets and face-paint and receive instructions on their respective roles in the “funeral procession” that will proceed through areas of wealth and commerce
A major coalition will be assembling at Union Park in Chicago at noon for a march to Federal Plaza.
In Portland, a traditional ‘family-friendly’, permitted event will commence at 3:30 pm at South Park with a march at 4:30, while student activists are planning on rising early and massing at 7:30 am at the headquarters of the Portland Public Schools to protest budget cuts and the falling quality of our schools and to attempt to nonviolently shut down work for the day.
A 9 am march for immigrant rights in Tucson will move from Greyhound Park parking lot to Armory Park for a noon rally with speakers, music, entertainment and info booths.
The Occupy Denver group has created a nifty commercial detailing its plans for May Day in the Mile High City.
This comprehensive directory offers links and info on each of the 126 cities and towns currently planning May Day actions.
No matter where you are, check out The Media Consortium’s group site, mediaforthe99percent.com, on Tuesday. I think it’ll be the best place to turn for careful and comprehensive reporting on what should be the economic justice movement’s spring coming-out party. Featuring a live-stream of the day’s events from Free Speech TV, an interactive map of actions and curated social media coverage, the site will chronicle the day with color, verve and smarts.
Finally, don’t miss this May Day playlist!