Peace at D.C.'s May Day Allows for Good Conversation, March to White House
About two hundred people gathered Tuesday afternoon to commemorate May Day in Washington D.C.'s Meridian Hill park. Chaos was erupting nationwide, but what happened in D.C. looked a lot more like a celebration -- a carnival, even -- than a rally.
Diverse groups of youths and adults spread out in the grass, enjoying the shade.The atmosphere in the park was friendly-friendly, and the peace allowed for conversation. Mothers nursed infants and changed diapers; teach-ins explained anarchy and capitalism. Participants gathered at the paint-your-own-sign station, while others tossed ping pong balls in 'inequality beer pong." (see slide-show below).
Later on, drums beat as twelve people grabbed red strings attached to a high May Day pole. They counted off, and the even-numbered people held their strings and dance-walked in one direction, while the odd-numbered headed the opposite way. The people wove around each other while the strings shortened and tightened around the pole.
Shortly after this, an all-women labor chorus led songs about the struggle for freedom, while a large, visibly moved crowd sang along. Multiple speakers took the stage to explain their struggles, regularly expressing the need for unity -- among unions, immigrants, soldiers, and students; the employed and the unemployed -- to uplift each other. While workers' rights were the absolute focus, other forms of oppression -- racism, immigration, sexism, imperialism -- were mentioned throughout the day. Names like Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, and Scott Walker became echoes. Still, the mood was positive.
By 7 pm, a march full of red flags moved towards the White House. A flower dragon snaked through the crowd. Spanish chants ware as almost as common as those in English. Few police were present , and those who were there kept their distance. When the group finally reached the White House, prominent speakers from labor organizations based in Honduras, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and other countries expressed their solidarity. Until the very end, international unity was the predominant theme. Iris Munguia, from Honduras, represented the Banana Workers Union. "We admire -- we respect -- your struggle," she told the crowd in front of the White House via a translator, "We know that you have been in the streets for three months. Your struggle is our struggle."
"The only thing that divides us is borders," she said, "Our struggle is the same."