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Tens of Thousands March in Oakland, New York for May Day | The Nation

May 6, 2012

Occupy Wall Street, unions and immigrants’ rights groups collaborated to organize massive protests on Tuesday in New York City and Oakland and smaller events across the country and around the world.

Yet one would have little knowledge about the scale of the rallies by reading and viewing the establishment media. The New York Daily News absurdly claims “hundreds of activists across the U.S.” participated in the marches, despite the fact that in New York City alone tens of thousands of people took to the streets. Reuters concurred, calling the resurgence a “dud,” adding accusations of a “poor turnout.”

Perhaps it would have been easy to adopt a pessimistic perception of the day standing in the rain at 4 am by the Brooklyn Bridge, waiting for a mass show of civil disobedience that never came or later sprinting through the streets of Chinatown on the Wildcat march that consisted of hundreds of masked young men and women overturning garbage cans, carrying a “Fuck the Police” banner and leading police on a wild goose chase that lasted forty-five minutes, as officers used their scooters like battering rams and activists seized police barricades to partition the street and make their getaway.

Zack, an Occupier who had been involved with some of the May Day organizing, remained optimistic during those hours and said he attended the event to see how the past four months of organizing would shape up.

“I think this is going to be a really important test for the movement and where we’re at in in New York. We’ll see what kind of support we have from the city and the people of the city,” he said, emphasizing that the protest was just one day. “It’s a day of economic noncompliance, a day of withdrawing our consent. It’ll be interesting to see how the collaboration with unions and immigrants rights groups pans out.”

In the afternoon, several breakout protests, called the 99 picket lines, picketed businesses that have a history of mistreating workers.

Members of the Legal Services of NYC, including Gibb Surette, president of the Legal Services Staff Association, a part of UAW Local 2320, met at the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue to fight for a better contract.

“May Day is International Workers Day, and internationalism is an extremely important concept for workers’ rights—not just because of globalism and solidarity with workers in other countries—but because the character of the working class in the United States is extremely international, and it always has been. It was a major feature of the working class movement and the struggle that gave birth to May Day. Most of the Haymarket martyrs were immigrants. The ability to target and exploit a class of people with less rights than others undermines the rights of all workers, so to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with groups that are fighting for immigrants’ rights is an absolute natural for labor.”

“99 pickets” converged later in the day at Sixth Avenue and 49th Street for a lively march that included protesters screaming “Fuck Jamie Dimon!” as they nearly stormed a Chase bank before security and the NYPD, batons wielding, frantically pushed back the surging crowd, and protest organizers convinced the activists to keep marching.

May Day protests were held across the country, where police fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at demonstrators in Oakland, protesters smashed windows in Seattle, and activists occupied a building owned by the Catholic archdiocese in San Francisco. Protests were also held in Chicago; Washington, DC; and Atlanta; and globally in Greece, London and Turkey.

In total, the Occupy movement organized protests in 125 US cities, according to the group’s website.

Midnight came and an estimated 100 protesters gathered at Zuccotti—protesters cried, “We’re home!” upon seeing the small concrete square—to discuss whether or not they should stay through the morning.

Beyond the short-term conversations about reoccupation, however, activists are asking big questions about the future of their movement, namely if the solidarity felt on Tuesday will last throughout the summer.

Full Story via Tens of Thousands March in Oakland, New York for May Day | The Nation.

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