Large protests are planned across the globe today to mark International Workers’ Day, or May Day. Workers in Asia have rallied for wage increases. Anti-austerity protests are being held in Europe. And here in the United States, groups aligned with Occupy Wall Street have announced plans for protests in more than 100 cities and towns.
In New York City, police officers visited the homes of at least three Occupy activists on Monday and interrogated them about plans for May Day. In one case, police broke down the door to the home of a Brooklyn activist at six in the morning, ostensibly to serve an arrest warrant on his roommate for a six-year-old open-container violation. They then questioned the activist about his plans for May Day. Meanwhile, other Occupy organizers are predicting a large day of action. Yoni Miller is an activist with Occupy Wall Street.
Yoni Miller: "Absolutely, May Day is going to be one of the largest events that happens to Occupy Wall Street yet. It’s going to be well over 100,000 people. And this summer is going to be looking really exciting. It’s going to be much warmer weather, and, you know, we’re going to continue the actions we’ve done against Bank of America, American Legislative Exchange Council, Goldman Sachs, the prison-industrial complexes, amongst many other targets."
"No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere": May Day Special on OWS, Immigration, Labor Protests
As Occupy Wall Street plans nationwide protests marking International Workers’ Day, or May Day, we discuss the movement with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Chris Hedges; Amin Husain, editor of Tidal magazine and a key facilitator of the Occupy movement; Marina Sitrin, author of "Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina" and a member of Occupy’s legal working group; and Teresa Gutierrez of the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights. We also get an update from protests on the streets of New York City from Ryan Devereaux, former Democracy Now! correspondent, now with The Guardian.
"People all over the country are talking about May Day as our day, whether you want to call it workers’ holiday or immigrant rights or the 99 percent," says Martina Sitrin, who notes Occupy activists hope to use May Day as a way to build solidarity with the student movement and non-unionized workers, as well. "This year is an important year to revive the struggle for immigrants in the wake of a million of our people being deported," adds Teresa Gutierrez.
Meanwhile, a debate over tactics continues within the Occupy movement. Chris Hedges discusses his recent column titled "The Cancer in Occupy," which critiques Black Bloc anarchists who cover their faces during protests and sometimes destroy property. "The Occupy movement expresses what the majority feels. And the goal of the security state is to sever the movement from the mainstream," Hedges says. "The way they will do that is by using groups—and some of these people may be well-meaning—but by using groups that will frighten the mainstream away." But "nothing is off the table," responds Amin Husain, who says the Occupy movement needs to reconceptualize how struggle works, how decisions get made through dialogue, and how to build power from within.
Husain and Hedges also discuss how they became involved in the Occupy protests. Husain is a former corporate lawyer who was working on Wall Street when he decided to leave his position of privilege. Hedges went from being a New York Times reporter to getting arrested in front of Goldman Sachs and challenging the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama.
We end the roundtable discussion with an excerpt of poet Stuart Leonard reading his poem, "Taking Brooklyn Bridge," which tells the story of the personal and political awakening he experienced while participating in an Occupy Wall Street march across the Brooklyn Bridge last fall. It is part of the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series published by Zuccotti Park Press
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