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Ear to the Ground

What to Expect on May Day

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Posted on Apr 30, 2012
Poster Boy NYC (CC BY 2.0)

An OWS poster promoting May Day hangs in a New York City subway station.

Wondering where to go and what will happen during Occupy Wall Street’s May Day protests? You’re not alone. With the knowledge that Occupy events rarely go according to plan, Natasha Lennard at Salon tries to lick the revolutionary chaos into manageable order.

With a respect for history and the U.S.’ changing social climate, Lennard warns against judging May 1’s performance by the standards of strikes that took place 70 years ago, when the labor movement was stronger than it is today. —ARK

Natasha Lennard at Salon:

I have written here at some length against judging this May Day by standards of traditional general strikes — not seen in the U.S. since the 1940s — or contemporary mass strikes in Europe, where unions have not been politically pummeled into weakness, as they have in this country. And although pundits are looking at May Day as a referendum on Occupy’s relevance, it’s unclear what success in this case means or would look like. Marches (both permitted and un-permitted), free meals, teach-ins, college student and high-school walkouts and roving dance parties have been scheduled in 115 cities around the country. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and other well known musicians will be joining a “guitarmy” — 1,000 guitarists marching (and strumming) from New York City’s midtown to Union Square. Clearly, the general strike organizers in New York are less interested in affirming the strength or relevance of a movement than they are in experimenting with new tactics. Still, there’s a feeling that somehow, and in some bold way, it’s got to be big.

… In New York, back to back (and overlapping) actions will be taking place across Manhattan and in some outer-borough areas. Numbers in the tens of thousands are expected at a permitted “solidarity march” in the afternoon from Union Square to Wall Street, jointly organized by OWS, the Alliance for Labor Rights, Immigrant Rights, Jobs for All and The May 1st Coalition. Organizers have been keen to stress that different marches and actions carry different levels of risk. Schedules demarcate rallies as permitted or unpermitted, or “green” or “red” (from a color-code for assigning risk dating back to the late ’90s anti-globalization movement) — enabling individuals with, say, precarious immigration statuses, to avoid activities that might put them at risk of deportation.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 2, 2012 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

vector, - “I am happy to inform you that nothing much went wrong today.”


Nothing much?  In these comparatively small crowds (a few thousand) across the country nearly one-thousand people have been arrested for various offenses.  That’s more people than were arrested while MILLIONS protested the Invasion of Iraq.

None too bright, are you, Hugo?

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 2, 2012 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

“Just as God gives every child equal access to
heaven so does he grant them equal access to the gifts
here on Earth.
Occupy Your Fair Share.”

heterochromati; by your above statement you imply that the very idea of millionaires and billionaires is an abomination?

Also, I here “heaven is “packed”  with millions of little “Brown” and Asian children our military have sent their over the years.

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By heterochromatic, May 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

rum——Just as God gives every child equal access to
heaven so does he grant them equal access to the gifts
here on Earth.
Occupy Your Fair Share.

please show us all the deed from God delineating each
of our Fair Shares….

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By heterochromatic, May 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

and if you’re cretinous enough to confuse me with IMax,
I’m sorry for you, kid.

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By heterochromatic, May 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

I’m quite unhappy about the planned stupidity….and
hoping that OWS actually finds the spine to head it

other than that, I’m half expecting to have to round up
bail money for the nephew.

nothing at all for me to be happy about as I was fairly
proud that NYC and OWS wasn’t at all on the level of
Oakland and that Imax was foolish to say that it was.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment


I respond to you both as a “pair”, because I am still not convinced you are not the same person; or just one monster with two heads?

You both seem to “cream” your trousers in anticipation of a day for the workers going bad. I am happy to inform you that nothing much went wrong today.

I wonder; would you two have considered the Boston Tea Party an act of “vandalism”?

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By heterochromatic, May 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

vec—- this IS violence planned by Black Bloc types tonight in NYC….. after the
union members end their march and go home, the less wholesome are hoping to
get some shit broken, some arrests and maybe some blood spilled.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, May 1, 2012 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

I suppose, if a huge on-line Media (presumably liberal) outlet such as the Huffington Post has published NOTHING about May Day activities…...(no mention of May Day at all..with regard to anything….) then May Day must not be important anymore…for any reason.

I’m not trying to make any special political or economic statement here except that, as a culture, America has become a nation of people who have no appreciation for history or symbolism. Days like May Day or Memorial Day or Veteran’s day are merely “shopping opportunities.” I can hardly wait for Congress to propose “Mission Accomplished Day.”

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 1, 2012 at 7:45 am Link to this comment


Yes, life is not the same for the policemen stabbed this morning as it is for the individual who carried the scissors to today’s May Day protests.  It’s not the same for all the innocent people who were terrified today after opening packages with white powder in them.  Or those men and woman who put their lives on the line investigating those packages. 

Laying the blame of violence at the feet of all of the above, referring to the United States as a multicultural slave ship, is an individual choice.  A choice made by one who refuse to take personal responsibility. 

You’re right.  You could go on pointlessly.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 1, 2012 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

Sorry IMax; saying it does not make it about “me”! Isn’t that how you guys work; redirect attention away from the subject to the individual who dares to utter anything but the “party line”? 

America for the Cop who bashes the head of the Protester is not the same.

America for the millions in prison is not the same as it is for your well fed Middle-Class ass!

America for the Natives who live without electricity out West is not the same as it is for “Soccer Moms”; I could go on, but what would be the point?

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By rumblingspire, May 1, 2012 at 5:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People Unite!
Just as God gives every child equal access to heaven so does he grant them equal access to the gifts here on Earth.
Occupy Your Fair Share.

It is foolish for a People to grant private ownership of essential resources.  Take back what is yours.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 1, 2012 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

In a way America herself is an enormous slave ship where many of her “consumers” that have given up their citizenship speak different languages and live in very different cultures.

Vector feels hopeless and not in control of his own destiny.  His individual experience is horribly sad.  The remainder of what he describes, the U.S. as different languages and cultures, can best be described as one of the most diverse and tolerant nations on the planet.  Most people, obviously not all, see this diversity as a positive.


May Day violence has begun.  Reports on tactics of terror (white powder sent to banks and the Mayor’s office), assaults on law enforcement, and the destruction of property are coming in everywhere.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 1, 2012 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

Still, there is a part of me that wishes we went “Bastille Day” on their asses!

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 1, 2012 at 4:13 am Link to this comment

At some level I wish I had a rebuttal to “whip out” on THX 1133 and “citizen” Robespierre115; but sadly, I do not.

I once read that when America kidnapped Africans to sell them into slavery they would deliberately pick people from different tribes and regions that spoke different languages.

In a way America herself is an enormous slave ship where many of her “consumers” that have given up their citizenship speak different languages and live in very different cultures.

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 1, 2012 at 3:04 am Link to this comment

What to expect?
Well, I imagine a lot of rhetoric, bravado,
righteousness, and calls to act. Now.
Not going to happen…
People (most) just can’t seem to remember the past,
don’t know actual history, follow their latest
demigod (left or right, it doesn’t matter), can’t
think (especially critically), and just have too many
intended distractions to really follow it all…
That, unfortunately, presents a rather dim outlook,

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, April 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

Venezuela is also inaugurating a groundbreaking labor law, probably the most progressive in the hemisphere tomorrow. However don’t expect too much here, the strike has 0 clear aims and the activists don’t even do the hard work of actually reaching out to the poor and working class. Example: In California’s Central Valley, which is starting to look literally like the Great Depression, OWS has 0 presence and its post-modern attitude even provokes resentment from the average poor farmer.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, April 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

This, by design, will turn violent. - IMax


The original call for a wildcat strike.

    MAY 1ST, 2012 1PM
We were told by a bosses, by activists, by union leaders we couldn’t strike. Perhaps, they suggested, if we wanted to protest we could carry a sign and walk within police barricades, safely cordoned off in a free speech zone. On May 1st, we aren’t working and we aren’t protesting. We are striking.
  We call on all fellow wildcat strikers to join us for a massive unpermitted march at 1pm at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (corner of 2nd and Houston). Along with striking rebels all over the world, we will show
  the bosses and cops of the world that we are many and we are only getting stronger.
  Bring drums, banners, music, and an affinity group. Stay tight and stay in the streets. See you on May Day.

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By the jack, April 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OWS.  fizzle.

you read it here first…

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

“Protesters on May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, are going to commit “a lot of violent acts which they’re then going to blame police for,” former community organizer Brandon Darby, a leading expert on leftist tactics”

IMax; consistently dishonest.

The above statement is standard tactic by the enemy; and make no mistake about IMax is an enemy. If one where to count the acts of violence committed by Police on protesters and the violence unarmed protesters have attempted against police IMax’s statement exposed for the cheap amateurish propaganda that it is. 

I say, fuck these right wing Libertarian bastards; don’t hold back (they have not)! “Rise up, you have nothing to lose but your chains”! Karl Marx.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, April 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Occupy #4.  An OWS Inspired Gazette
Money In the Occupy Movement.
Marisa Holmes joined with Rebuild the Dream, the Other 98% (a.k.a.
Andrew Boyd),, the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU), the Communications
Workers of America (CWA), and the AFL-CIO and dozens of other Democratic
Party supporters to initiate the project. They had incredible resources at their fingertips,
and they leveraged them in a visionary exercise of co-optation.

Move-onorg thought they would do what they’ve always done: take corporate money,
funnel it through progressive causes, give it a spin, and call it activism. They handpicked
dozens of young trainers from around the country to shepherd in the project, but it was
a rush job. Sam Corbin, a trainer in NY, told me that Move-on and the coalition had no
experience with direct action and wanted to appeal to their base of largely white middle
class liberals. She referred to the curriculum as “vanilla.” They made tokenizing references
to Gandhi and MLK and gushed about non-violent direct action, but there was little practical
application. No follow-up direct actions were planned.

The 19th century anarchist and feminist, Voltairine de Cleyre wrote, “Every person
who ever had a plan to do anything, and went and did it, or who laid his plan before others,
and won their co-operation to do it with him, without going to external authorities to
please do the thing for them, was a direct actionist.”

A direct action may be sharing food, sewing clothing, or building a tent. It may be a
strike, boycott, or other form of refusal. It may also be a form of disruption at the point of
production or destruction. Regardless, direct action is against the existing economic and
political institutions and for new social relations. It does not recognize the existing power
structures, and this is precisely what makes it effective.

The Occupy movement grew from direct action. When we occupied Zuccotti Park
and renamed it Liberty Plaza we did not ask permission. We did not demand that we have
the park. We simply took the park and transformed it into the world we wanted to live in,
that is, a world based in mutual aid, trust, and self-management. This is exactly the kind of
world that and the rest of the 99% Spring are determined to extinguish.
Ilyse Hogue, the former Campaign Director at Move-on, progressive pit bull, and 99%
Spring supporter, wrote an article in the Nation stating, “It’s human to mourn the death
of the early days of the cohesive and compelling communities in the town squares, which
gripped the world’s attention. Let’s honor the past, note what has changed and make way
for the new. Occupy is dead! Long live Occupy!”

The best way to kill something is to memorialize it. This is the objective of the 99%
Spring. By taking on the appearance of the movement (i.e. using common phrases and
frames) and integrating it into so-called practical actions Move-on has attempted to kill
the Occupy movement.

This is an election year. Everything is at stake. There will be many more attempts like
The 99% Spring to come.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, April 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Protesters on May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, are going to commit “a lot of violent acts which they’re then going to blame police for,” former community organizer Brandon Darby, a leading expert on leftist tactics

Darby believes that May Day activists will carry out “very deliberate provocations all across the country and they will claim that whatever violence follows was instigated by police.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement, according to Darby, “is really just a re-branding of long-standing far left movements across the board that formed in the 1960s and 1970s and learned to reinvent themselves. When you talk about the 99 percent versus the one percent, you’re talking about the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie and so forth.”

“You can expect a lot of violence on May 1, a lot of property destruction.  They’re going to claim that it wasn’t them, it was this other faction who showed up at the march. The unions in general, like SEIU, are going to claim that it’s these rogue factions like they did at the 2008 Republican national convention. But you have to remember that [anti-capitalism activist] Lisa Fithian, for one example, is not only someone paid by the SEIU but she is one of their organizers.” Darby claims Fithian also led training sessions leading up the GOP convention four years ago. Some of the radicals she trained “later went on to make bombs against Republicans and law-enforcement officials in Minnesota.”

Darby gos on to say, “What you’ll see is various people speaking and then some of the people will no doubt do insane things and violate laws.’  ‘And then whenever they hit a cop in the face with a brick they’ll come back and say it was the police who instigated it or deserved it or somehow an FBI informant encouraged them to do it.”

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