Taking Back May Day: What to Expect on the Nationwide Day of Rallies, Strikes and Actions
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“Hopefully,” she continued, “what we can do is get the word strike to be a more positive thing in people's minds, so that when the push comes to shove, we could possibly have general strikes across the country in years to come. The workforce right now needs to realize what the term strike is.”
Join the fun
How can you join in? A new site, HowIStrike.tumblr.com, offers some provocative ideas of what could constitute striking in this new economy. The proposals range from “I strike by breaking our cultural taboo and asking my friends and family 'what do you really think about capitalism?'” to hunger strikes to the more traditional “ call in sick,” but all offer ideas for how everyone can act in solidarity on May Day.
And maybe that's the first step—thinking about nationwide collective action. But for people in many cities, there's opportunity not just to take symbolic action, but to get out in the streets and march, meet new friends, join a picket line, create some art, hear some music, and share something.
In New York, the day begins at Bryant Park, where “mutual aid” will be set up all day, including free food, art and the “really really free market”; direct actions will launch from the park, as will the 99 pickets. Stamp said of the food, services and more on offer in Bryant Park, “To just have an exchange program, to have the people's trading floor really brings it back to what we did in the first place, which was occupy Wall Street to show the differences and show the mistakes, and now we can have a people's trading floor instead of the stock exchange.”
Union Square will be the site not only of a concert, but of permitted gathering under the banner of “ Legalize, Organize, Unionize,” celebrating immigrant workers' contributions as well as holding labor and immigrants' rights workshops throughout the day. The legal permits mean the likelihood of arrest is very low at these events, making them family-friendly and also safe for those who might be at risk of deportation. A march to Wall Street will be led by taxicabs and is also fully permitted. After that, the plan is more open. “With a lot of what Occupy does, I can't really predict what will happen, I've been surprised so many times,” Machado said.
Elsewhere, Occupy Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is unveiling the start of its " Overpass Light Brigade" by standing on an overpass near one of the state's 6,000 structural deficient bridges; Occupy LaGrange, Georgia is taking over LaFayette Square from 11am to 7pm. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a solidarity rally over the weekend called for an end to deportations, as well as an end to cuts to BadgerCare, the state's healthcare service threatened by Governor Scott Walker.
In Chicago, the birthplace of May Day, a march, endorsed by various unions and immigrant groups starts at Union Park at noon; in Seattle, multiple events include an Anti-Capitalist march and an Honor the Dead, Fight for the Living march, honoring Trayvon Martin as well as the Haymarket Martyrs.
And in one of the day's most controversial actions, activists in the San Francisco Bay area have backed away from a prior plan to occupy the Golden Gate bridge in the morning. There will still be hard pickets to shut down ferries, however, and plenty of action around San Francisco and Oakland.
If you can't join an action in your neighborhood (a fairly comprehensive list is available at OccupyWallSt.org), AlterNet reporters will be on the ground in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City; we'll have coverage throughout the day. If you have a local story you think we should know about email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.