May Day 2016: Mobilization, Intervention, and Solidarity
Filed under: Canada, Mexico, US
Filed under: Canada, Mexico, US
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
May Day 2016 showed an upsurge in anarchist initiatives, both in terms of interventions in the social terrain, mobilizations on our own, and also through the showing of solidarity with ongoing social struggles such as the unfolding prisoner strikes in Alabama and the campaign to boycott Driscoll’s berries in solidarity with striking workers in San Quinton. New crews, organizations, and groups are being organized, linking up and taking action, as some cities saw anarchists hitting the streets for the first time in years. Already established organizations and formations, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC), also stretched their legs in a real way while autonomous actions in other cities also took shape outside of formal groups.
From anarchist picnics and block parties, to the now 5 year running annual street battles in Seattle, from wheatepasted posters to dropped banners and printed newsletters, people showed this year that they were not one trick ponies. People looked at their surroundings and thought about what actions were strategic and possible. Hopefully this is a start of a greater turning point for anarchists and autonomous anti-capitalists.
We’d like to thank everyone that submitted a May Day report to IGD and encourage others who have not yet done so to do the same. This round up will include links, pictures, and tweets, but should not be considered the final word on the matter. We encourage other people to submit their own analysis as well as critiques. Also, if we left something out, get in touch with us!
At the end of the day, we should also be looking at what other cities pulled off and ask if we ourselves could have incorporated these tactics into our own strategies. Is it better to have a family oriented event such as a BBQ or a picnic and forego a militant march? Some cities decided to do both. What do we get out of black blocs and noise demos if they lead to costly arrests? Are they worth it? What legal and support infrastructure is needed to give help to those when repression does come? How do we engage with reformist, recuperative, and bureaucratic Leftist events (if at all) which seek to manage and contain action and self-organization? Do we show solidarity with some groups, or do we only add our critical voices and actions to these events and seek to find others doing the same? But moreover, how do we see these actions as part of a trajectory forward? Is May Day simply one more event that brings us together as a frail social scene, or is it a building block for future action and self-organization?
Also, as the prisoner strikes continue to unfold in Alabama and beyond, the Verizon strike heats up with police now having run over a striker while protecting scabs and sabotage continues to grow, and the Driscoll’s boycott continues to heat up, we must ask ourselves how we can continue to show revolutionary solidarity? How can our autonomous actions aid in these struggles but also expand them out of the hands of Leftists, union bosses, and political parities?
One final thought, we also want to encourage groups to set up methods of counter-information. In many cases in creating this roundup, it was very hard to track down what, if anything, had happened on May Day. While we all can’t or don’t want to be social media warriors, we do feel like sharing reports and analysis leads to a more healthy, reflective, and strategic anarchist movement. We also want to encourage people to not be afraid to write and to share their stories and analysis. For too long, anarchist writing has been seen as the realm of wordy academics, and overall, white men. Let’s really work to change this.
In the coming months, hopefully we can take these lessons and initiative and apply them to other dates of mobilization fast approaching. These include June 11th, an international day in solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners and September 9th, when a general strike has been called in all US prisons. Also, there is going to be a continuous stream of protests and disruptions against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both in their campaigns but also at the DNC and RNC, not to mention the growing need for a militant anti-fascist response to growing white nationalist events. In short, if May Day can do anything for us, its offer us a chance to stop and take stock of our activity, our capacity, our level of organization, and our infrastructure.
We’ll return next week with a full All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down, but in this spirit or revolt and reflection, let’s get to the round up.
— Bettina Hansen (@bettinahansen) May 2, 2016
For a May Day report by Seattle anarchists, go here. Read the text to a flyer handed out to those on the street here. But in short, for now 5 years people have taken to the streets on May Day to combat the police and march through the city. This year, anarchists and others also organized a family friendly festival that featured music, information tables, and face painting. This year the militant May Day marches also began to receive a lot of negative press from both right-wing and liberal commentators. Many began to use Leftist language to critique these events, decrying anything militant as “riot privilege.” On Anarchist News, one commenter responded to these criticisms:
I’m an anarchist in Seattle who has been attending the immigrants’ march annually since around 2007. I also sometimes go to the anti-capitalist march. I actually love when people forward this argument… that “white suburban neo-anarchists” are “exploiting” the immigrant march, because it’s so patently false on the most basic level that it reveals people who want to marginalize the anti-capitalist march (and thus aid the police in repressing it) can’t even be bothered to understand what the event is. THE ANTI-CAPITALIST MARCH, EVERY YEAR, HAS TAKEN PLACE IN A LITERAL DIFFERENT TIME AND PLACE THAN THE IMMIGRANTS’ MARCH. This is undoubtedly intentionally designed to PREVENT the different aims of the two events from interfering with each other while also allowing people to attend both. Many anarchists do attend both every year, and when they attend the immigrants’ march, they apparently play by the rules there. In my nine or so years of attending the immigrants march, I [only] remember one controversy ever between anarchists and other marchers, and it was over anarchists throwing leaflets in the air (lol.) Saying that the organizers of the anti-capitalist march are “exploiting” the immigrants’ march is deceptive, inaccurate, and–ironically–doing harm to the event you don’t support by bolstering the city’s narrative that the anti-capitalist march deserves whatever violent repression it gets.
If the anti-capitalist march were ever a break-away march from the immigrants rally, I would at least understand the debate. Instead, all I see are leftist protest bosses making sure that everyone stays in control and asks politely for reforms that never come–and immigrants losing interest in that strategy for obvious reasons, just like everyone else–and enabling the police to repress anyone who doesn’t fall in line by marginalizing other people’s efforts.
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) May 1, 2016
— Insurrection News (@InsurrectNews) May 2, 2016
Support Prisoner Resistance wrote that people, “Joined the local May Day march with a large banner and handed out 600 flyers.”
In San Francisco, wobblies and anarchists marched in a May Day parade led by the ILWU, the Longshoremen’s Union, which also shut down the port of San Francisco for a shift, in protest of continued police murders. Wobblies also held a demonstration outside of a Sprig, a startup that uses drivers to deliver food to people through a web app that IWW members have been organizing. One wobbly sent in this report:
And about 20 bicyclists rode over to Sprig and picketed but most of the operations were shut down in preparation for the protest. A speech was given to explain the grievances of workers and the anti-union layoff of bike couriers. Many cooks and kitchen staff waved in support. After the speeches a smaller group of about 7 activists stormed inside demanding to speak with Matt Landry who is the manager responsible for the layoff. They chanted “union busting is disgusting” over a megaphone which echoed throughout Sprig’s building.
Eventually some distribution managers informed them that they needed to leave and that they were trespassing. The activists slowly proceeded to exit the building while condemning Sprig and in the end there was a general feeling of empowerment that inspired people to take more direct action in the future.
In Santa Cruz, anti-authoritarians and anarchists participated in a May Day march that showed solidarity with the ongoing boycott of Driscoll’s Berries as well as a local struggle to keep open a community garden which is threatened with development. From Indybay.org Alex Darocy wrote:
The march began at Santa Cruz City Hall and made its way to the downtown New Leaf Market, where a large group of demonstrators entered the popular natural foods store. Inside the market, a letter signed by community members was delivered to the business asking them to honor the Driscoll’s boycott and to stop selling the brand’s berries.
From New Leaf, community members marched to the Beach Flats Community, and then on to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where gardeners and community members delivered a letter to the Seaside Company asking that the business work with the city to preserve the entire Beach Flats Garden for the gardeners. On April 26, the Santa Cruz City Council formalized a lease agreement with the Santa Cruz Seaside Company that only preserves 60% of the garden for public use for three years.
Protests, demonstrations, store disruptions, and pickets in Santa Cruz and Wattsonville have been continuous and ongoing.
A small group marched on a police substation in solidarity with the ongoing prisoner strikes and put up stickers and threw paint on the police building. Read a report with photos here.
A banner was dropped and flyers handed out for ongoing anti-prison organizing efforts in solidarity with the unfolding prisoners strikes.
Prisoners in multiple facilities in Alabama went on strike. Check out the report from Support Prisoner Resistance here (which includes reports from prisoners) as well as their ongoing roundups from other media sources. Currently the strike is still on however the prison administrators have started to retaliate. Solidarity actions, demonstrations, and spreading of information is still need to check out both the IWOC and Support Prisoner Resistance websites for more information.
As the strike continued, supporters of Free Alabama Movement (FAM), also known as Mothers and Families (MAF) held a demonstration outside of Holman Prison, the scene of numerous riots over the past several months.
Anarchist prisoner, Michael Kimble, who is currently incarcerated in Holman prison, issued this statement for May Day and the strike:
On May 1st, 2016, prisoners in Alabama will be staging a workstrike at a number of Alabama prisons.
My reasons for shutting down is simple, I want to bring as much pain and disorder to the state (ADOC) as I can as an individual in any way that I can. I don’t give a fuck about “changing any laws” because they are the mechanism that is used to keep people from being free. Fuck the law! The only true freedom is when we act outside of the law.
But in the cause of solidarity I’m asking all outside rebels to express their solidarity with the striking prisoners through free direct action. Join us, protest at an Alabama prison, burn some shit down/up, drop some banners, just cause some fucking chaos. Shit is getting real in Alabama prisons, not that it wasn’t already.
It’s going down! Fire to the prisons and the society that creates them, upholds them, and maintains them. Fuck peace! Locking humans in cages is not peace.
In Love & Rage,
For more info see: freealabamamovement.com
Anarchists and anti-capitalists in Kansas City held a pre-May Day march and noise demo that was followed the next day by a picnic and celebration. Read report here.
Posters reading, May Day: Attack White Supremacy pasted up along May Day march route. Report and photos here. Later, graffiti appeared in solidarity with those arrested in Seattle, report and photos here.
Wobblies, anarchists, and prison abolitionists held a demo in solidarity with ongoing prison strikes on a freeway overpass.
In Denver, wobblies held a May Day celebration and the Denver Anarchist Black Cross hosted Paul Z. Simmons, a long time anarchist writer who presented on his recent travels to the autonomous and anti-state region of Rojava in Northern Syria. Check out the video below of the talk.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) May 10, 2016
Showed up at the 8000+ person immigrant rights march, dozens of IWW members, many with anti-prison signs. Handed out hundreds of flyers and left from the end of that march to a second march against prison profiteers and a noise demo at the Milwaukee Secure detention facility.
In the next several days, a follow up rally was held outside of McDonald’s for their role in profiting off of prison labor and in solidarity with the Alabama strikes.
Chicago anarchists marched on May Day which lead to 19 arrests as the group conducted a noise demos outside of two jails. According to our sources, all those arrested are now out but court cases are still on going. Read a report from Chicago here.
Anti-Fascists marched within the main May Day march to the White House. In the past years, fascists had rallied in opposition there although none were spotted this year.
Wobblies held a May Day celebration and gathering as well as participated in a May Day March.
— Pittsburgh IWW (@PittsburghIWW) May 1, 2016
Pittsburgh Wobblies walk alongside the LCLAA and other community groups in the May Day March for Immigrant Rights pic.twitter.com/XMqgcHaY5b
— Pittsburgh IWW (@PittsburghIWW) May 4, 2016
New York City
In NYC, people held a noise demo and later a march outside of a jail in solidarity with prison strikes happening in Alabama.
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) May 1, 2016
Anarchists designed and printed in the hundreds a beautiful outreach brochure on the unfolding prison strikes across the US and handed them out in the larger May Day march.
Large scale anarchist mobilizations lead to clashes with police. Check out the subMedia.tv video here.
— stimulator (@stimulator) May 1, 2016
— stimulator (@stimulator) May 1, 2016
Anarchists participated in the large May Day march.
Thousands marched and rallied in the Zócalo in Mexico City, where the anti-authoritarian contingent received its own special escort.
— CNT Martorell (@CNT_Martorell) May 1, 2016
— Uriel Rodriguez (@uriel_rodriguez) May 1, 2016
“To work or to die of hunger, that is freedom under capitalism. Attack! To destroy our chains! For communism and anarchy against exploitation and misery!”
In Querétaro, the governor and his cabinet thought they would watch the May Day march. They promptly fled after teachers tossed hats at them and chanted, “Pancho, you said everything would change. Lie! Lie! It’s the same crap!”
"Insumisión" is a featured column from Scott Campbell that brings you news and analysis from social movements and struggles in the territory referred to as Mexico.