“Our verdict this morning cheers the hearts of tyrants throughout the world, and the result will be celebrated by King Capital in its drunken feast of flowing wine from Chicago to St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, our doom to death is the handwriting on the wall, foretelling the downfall of hate, malice, hypocrisy, judicial murder, oppression, and the domination of man over his fellowman. The oppressed of earth are writhing in their legal chains. The giant Labor is awakening. The masses, aroused from their stupor, will snap their petty chains like reeds in the whirlwind.”
-Albert Parsons to Lucy Parsons
“The universal misery, the ravages of the capitalistic hyena have brought us together in our agitation, not as persons, but as workers in the same cause. Such is the “conspiracy” of which you have convicted me.”
-Louis Lingg to the court
On May 1st, 1886, like thunder booming out from a thousand storm clouds, mass strikes took place across the US in thousands of workplaces, as working people fought for the 8 hour workday; a struggle that many also hoped would lead into an all out confrontation with capitalist society. This was a time not a protest spectacles and symbolic one day strikes, but of bloody class war, militarized strike breakers, and workers who shot back. In Chicago, where militant anarchist and socialist organizations had been building in the working class areas, these strikes were met with fierce repression from the police, and several strikers were killed. In response, anarchists produced and distributed tens of thousands of flyers, calling for workers to gather in Haymarket Square the following night in a rally to denounce the police killings. And on Tuesday, May 4th, upwards of several thousand workers did just that.
When police attempted to break up the demonstration, someone threw a bomb at the police, leading to a shoot out which left several officers and many more workers dead. In the aftermath, 8 anarchists were arrested, some of whom had not even been at the Haymarket rally. A trial ensued, and the government declared that there had been a conspiracy to create disorder and murder police officers, while pointing to the foreign birth of several of the accused. A year later, 4 anarchists (George Engel, Adolf Fischer, Albert Parsons, and August Spies) were hanged after another (Louis Lingg) attempted suicide in his cell, refusing the State the pleasure of his death. Three more received prison time. One of what would be later be called the Haymarket Martyrs, August Spies stated right before the level was pulled, “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.” Others called out, “Hurrah for anarchism!,” as the hangman’s door opened.
But during the trial and in it’s aftermath, a new generation of proletarians and militant organizers grew; people that became radicalized in the fight for the 8-hour work day and also the campaign to free the Haymarket anarchists. In the following years, the battle of the 8 hour day continued and was eventually won, with the date of May 1st being used to hold mass rallies and marches in remembrance of the Haymarket Martyrs whose lives and deaths came to symbolize the fight against the capitalist State. So powerful has the idea of May Day been to working people across the world, that States have attempted to co-opt it and change its date. But the spirit of resistance alive in May Day lives on; on May 1st 2006, millions of undocumented migrant workers across the US took to the streets in a mass general strike, stopping anti-migrant legislation HR-4437 dead in its tracks.
Today, May Day is taking place in the United States alongside a backdrop of mass misery, resistance, and repression. Neoliberalism, whether that of Trump or Obama, continues to grind people into the ground; making them work longer for less and less pay, as automation and the gig economy attempt to push us all into the margins. Millions excluded by the economy, largely Native, Black, and Brown communities, instead fill the prisons and detention facilities, as police remain as brutal as ever, killing an average of 3.5 people per day. Meanwhile, the ecological situation only continues to get worse and basic services and infrastructure have begun to degrade, as the elites continue to beat the drum of war.
But while industrial capitalism is both breaking down as well as breaking apart along its own contradictions, mass struggles and revolts are arising in ever sector of the population. In the face of evictions and gentrification, people are calling for rent strikes. In the wake of police brutality and murder, people are rioting, blocking freeways, and launching full on rebellions. Angry at pipelines destroying their lands and evicting them from their homes, indigenous Nations and settlers are coming together to resist the Black Snake, by any means necessary. And, in the millions, workers are launching mass strikes, in the face of threats by the bosses and attempted sell-outs by the trade union leadership.
And just as in 1886, the State today views autonomous social movements which are building and fighting for a new world to be the principle threat to the established order. This is why they are attempting to pass new laws making already illegal behavior, like blocking freeways and pipelines, to instead be met with higher fines and jail time and the serving of possible conspiracy charges. Thus, fusion centers label “anarchist” and “black identity extremists” as potential terrorists, and #J20 defendants face upwards of 60 years in prison just for taking part in a march against Trump. Like in 1886, our true “conspiracy” is that of wanting to struggle and fight for a different world.
In that spirit, We’ve put together this handy guide to May Day events in the US and in Canada, as well as some ideas about how you and your friends can take part, even if you don’t have anything planned.
Plan a Last Minute May Day:
May Day is important because it links us to our past, but also to a global movement against capitalist exploitation and domination. Around the world, May Day is celebrated in part due to the sacrifices made by our movement, and in return, we must fight to keep those revolutionary politics front and center.
Towards this end, doing something for May Day doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor or something that is outside of the scope of our capacity. Instead it can be a joyful exercise in simply coming together and adding ourselves to the growing chorus of voices around us fighting for autonomy, freedom, and the commune.
In that spirit, here are some last minute ideas:
*Block party. Free food giveaway. Really Really Free Market. BBQ with literature and films in a park. Put up an info table at a concert, farmer’s market, school campus, or outside a DMW or WalMart.
*If you have access to an event space show the new Sub.Media film on gentrification or the Unicorn Riot short on fighting pipelines in West Virginia, and discuss how this relates to struggles in your area. Hold a letter writing night for prisoners. Skype a friend in to do a talk. Hold a benefit show to raise money. Host a salon to discuss ongoing struggles in your region. Gather resources to send to a nearby land defense or pipeline resistance camp.
*Drop a banner in solidarity with a struggle happening right now. Show some love for teachers on strike. Rep La ZAD. Send some love to Rojava. Buy an old sheet from Good Will for a $1, find an old corporate one, or follow these instructions to get fancy. Remember, dropping a banner doesn’t have to mean getting up on a freeway overpass, it can also mean just putting one up in your neighborhood.
*Get the crew together to do a project around where you live. This could be painting the local infoshop, cleaning up racist graffiti, or putting up free boxes filled with revolutionary literature around where you live.
Rep Your Squad
Regardless of if you are marching in a huge event or holding a banner with three of your friends in a backyard, don’t forget to publicize and share your activities.
IGD will be doing a full May Day roundup so make sure to include what you and your crew are up to. By doing so, you’ll help show that across the vast geographical region of so-called North America, people are coming together, taking action, and thinking about a different kind of world and form of life.
Vancouver, BC: Rally and march.
join us next Tuesday for the Vancouver May Day rally! bring noisemakers, signs, flags, etc. pic.twitter.com/K4SLiZsQZh
— Vancouver IWW (@vancouveriww) April 25, 2018
Kitchener, ON: May Day celebration. More info here.
Hamilton, ON: Tenants with the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network are launching a rent strike on May 1st: “Last night at a mass meeting at the local community centre, dozens of tenants from four high-rise apartment buildings in East Hamilton committed to going on rent strike on May 1st. The Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network calls on fellow Stoney Creek Towers tenants to join the strike. We call on tenants across Hamilton to support the strikers as they stand up to a corporate landlord and protest the laws and institutions that allow for the displacement of working-class people from their communities.” More info here.
Hamilton, ON: March and Food Serving. 6pm at City Hall (71 Main Street W). More info on Facebook.
Ottawa, ON: 6pm at the Supreme Court of Canada (301 Wellington St). More info on Facebook.
Sudbury, ON: 5:30 pm at Memorial Park (Corner of Minto and Brady). More info on Facebook.
Toronto, ON: 5pm at Finch West Station. More info on Facebook.
Montreal, QC: May Day rally and march. “It is with this spirit of solidarity that the SITT-IWW Montréal invites you to demonstrate on Tuesday, May 1st, in the Parc-Extension neighborhood, on the occasion of the International Workers’ Day, to chant all together: WE ARE NOT ALONE!” More info here.
Kingston, ON: “Politicians only offer us empty promises and thinly veiled threats. As the circus that is the Ontario election approaches, we call for people to stay focused on building grassroots and dynamic movements that can effect real change. The system is rigged: every vote is a vote for capitalism. If this sounds up your alley, or you’re curious to hear more, join us for the May Day BBQ and March on May 1st starting at 5pm in Skeleton Park.” More info here.
So-Called United States:
Seattle, WA: There is a call for decentralized May Day actions across the city. The call has already been endorsed by a variety of groups and organizations. Read the call-out here. Alt-Right and militia groups are also organizing to prevent demonstrations.
Olympia, WA: There is a call for decentralized May Day across across the city. Read the call-out here.
Community block party and BBQ info here.
Portland, OR: Portland will be holding variety of events over several days, from April 28th to May 1st. For more info. go here.
Mass May Day rally at Lents Park, 1pm, to feature various groups and speakers including Burgerville Workers Union. More info here.
Boise, ID: May Day march. Info here.
Bay Area: Rally in Oakland, CA for May Day and in solidarity with ILWU west coast port shutdown at 29 locations. More info here.
In San Francisco and Oakland, there is also a two day, April 28th and 29th, free conference happening, organized, featuring, and run by, radical anti-authoritarians. For more info and a schedule of events, go here.
Port Hueneme, CA: Really Really Free Market and free workshops on everything from May Day history, cyber security, and housing organizing. More info here.
Los Angeles, CA: There is a call for a decentralized May Day.
The LA IWW will also be holding their May Day social. Info here.
LA IWW 2nd Annual May Day kick-Off Social
Our first annual May Day kick-off social event was a huge success in 2017, so we're doing it again this year on Saturday April 28th. Below you will find all of the information you will need in order to join in the fun. #IWWLA pic.twitter.com/cyYNO3nnzq
— IWW Los Angeles GMB (@LosAngelesIWW) April 24, 2018
San Diego, CA: Large marched called and endorsed by several anti-authoritarian groups.
August 28th IWW film showing also being organization, info here.
Denver, CO: On April 29th, “Come celebrate May Day and workers of the world with your local rednecks AKA Front Range John Brown Gun Club. Let’s eat, hang out, and talk about how we can make our community stronger. We’re doing this potluck style so please check the link posted in the discussion section to sign up for something to pass. This event is kid friendly so bring the whole family!” Event here.
Durango, CO: On May 1st, gather for a Really Really Free Market with the Dirty Hands Collective. “A Really Really Free Market is like a potluck for whatever you want to give or take away. Have you ever brought one dish to a potluck and gone away with a full belly and a balanced meal? Everybody brings something and goes away with more.” Event here.
Houston, TX: May Day march. Info here.
Austin, TX: The Autonomous Student Network is doing a whole week of events! They write:
To commemorate and conjure this spirit of resistance, the Autonomous Student Network is staging a series of events throughout the week of May Day. We have decided to host a week of events both to honor the struggles of May ’68, which lasted far longer than a single day, and to deal with the fact that May Day inconveniently falls on a Tuesday this year. Through these events, we hope to spread awareness and reactivate historical memory about the insurgent spirit of ’68 and of May Day. Each of these events is an open invitation to reconceptualize our relationships to time and space, tap into the historical memory of the struggles which have shaped our world, and reclaim our capacities to act together in building a new world.
These events include:
- May 1st and throughout the week: “Throughout the week of May Day, you may see signs of small, mischevious acts that strike at or subvert various institutions which govern our lives. These may be tactics that tinker with time, unauthorized messages appearing in unexpected places, or other disruptions to the campus. You might see some Community Boxes pop up, encouraging a more generalized practice of mutual aid on campus, or some posters in obscure locations featuring cryptic clues. Keep an eye out throughout the week and expect the unexpected. You never know what you might find!” More info here.
- May 2nd: “Our first official event of the week is a squatted potluck—or Squatluck for short. Throughout the day, we will communize a space on campus and camp out. We will share food, play games, sing songs, watch movies, and talk about how we can live in accordance with the insurgent spirit of May ’68. In our actions, we hope to subvert UT’s control of spaces and their “proper” use by exploring new ways of sharing space and building relationships. And if the cops kick us out, we’ll just go somewhere else! So come out, bring some blankets, food, games, and your friends, and let’s find each other and build some connections.” More info here.
- May 3rd: “To commemorate May Day, we are releasing the 2nd May-Day themed issue of our zine, The Call, and throwing a party to celebrate it! We invite all students, workers, revolutionaries, and community members to join us for a night highlighting our creative & expressive capacities. The night will feature readings from the zine as well as an open mic for speeches, panels, performances, and all other modes of expression! Let’s engage in forms of communication and expression that inspire and provoke, agitate and subvert. We hope to discover a language the expresses our desires, a language rooted in life and relationships rather than one that merely reflects our alienation and misery. Together, let’s gain a fluency in subversive, ungovernable forms of communication that go beyond the narrow images and spectacles that captivate our society.” More info here.
- May 5th: “We’re ending our week with a debaucherous celebration! At a secret location (which we will not disclose publicly to avoid harassment by party-poopers), we will finish off our week with riotous festivities & merrymaking.” More info here.
Kansas City, MO: Benefit show and concert. “The Kansas City Grassroots Network will be hosting a concert on International Worker’s Day at Revolution Records from 6pm to 11pm. All proceeds will go to The KC Mother’s Day Bailout Fund. There will be food, music, and speakers on various topics from prison abolition to worker’s rights and the history of May Day.” More info here.
Detriot, MI: May Day rally organized in part by IWW and Michigan People’s Defense Network. More info here.
Grand Rapids, MI: 12 pm A huge unpermitted march for International Workers Day that will start from Roosevelt Park at Chicago Drive & Clyde Park to Downtown Grand Rapids. Organized by Movimiento Cosecha GR, an immigrant advocacy group in Grand Rapids. More info here.
Ann Arbor, MI: On May 1st: “To play the Peoples’ Pac Man, you either join — or create — a spawn point somewhere within the Ann Arbor game map. Each spawn point is a meeting place for a self-organized march (bloc) through the city. The goal of the game is for your bloc to rove around with a big flag proclaiming your bloc while causing a ruckus loud enough to find the other blocs and combine into one super-unified and totally sassy mega-march (kinda like Voltron, although it’s also like Pac Man). But watch out! Sometimes cops.” Event here.
This event will then be followed by a May Day picnic at West Park. More info here.
In addition to @Chicago_IWW's awesome May Day schedule, there's a coalition of groups organizing marches all afternoon for May Day:
Meet at Haymarket Monument (Randolph / Des Plaines) 2:30 PM
— CDSA LSC 🏴🌹🇵🇸 (@cdsa_lsc) April 24, 2018
— Black Rose Chicago (@brrnchi) April 28, 2018
Twin Cities, MN: The Twin Cities General Defense Committee will hold a potluck on April 28t as well as participate in a May Day march.
New Haven, CT: Various anti-authoritarian and anarchist groups participating in larger May Day march.
New Haven CT ! Quinnipiac River Park 12PM-5PM, and a march at 5:30!!! pic.twitter.com/YcbPVaP4Lz
— unionized AI❤️🖤 (@humanfriend_) April 27, 2018
Homestead, PA: May Day celebration. “Join the Pittsburgh General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World and IWW General Defense Committee Local 5 as we commemorate the true Labor Day and come together to remember the achievements of the working class, build bonds to defend, and address the current struggles we still face.” More info here.
Philadelphia, PA: On April 28th, there will be a May Day IWW meetup at the A-Space. Event info here. For more info on May Day activities in Philly, including a conference starting May 1st and calls for May Day action, go to Philly Anti-Capitalist.
The Philadelphia IWW will be on strike this May Day. Will you join us? https://t.co/8ISj4Nj4ce
— Philadelphia IWW (@phillyiww) April 16, 2018
Atlantic City, NJ: May 5th May Day BBQ. Organized by GDC and other groups. More info here.
Ithaca, NY: May Day free meal. See flyer below.
NYC: There are several anarchist events taking place on and around May Day.
- April 29th in Tompskins Square Park, 1pm, celebration. Info here.
- On May 1st, 2pm, call for bike bloc. Info here.
- On May 1st, 5pm, call by MACC to take the streets as part of a larger May Day contingent. Info here.
- On May 1st, 8pm, noise demo for incarcerated workers. Info here.
Lexington, KY: May Day rally. “At 4 we will gather in Duncan Park to rally. Food will be provided by Food Not Bombs, additional help in preparing and serving food is always welcome. At 6 we will relocate to outside Al’s Bar where the various host organizations can all congregate, network, and share information with people. Donations will be collected for Food Not Bombs.” More info here.
Durham, NC: There is a call for decentralized May Day actions across ‘Triangle’ NC. On May st in Durham, people will rally. More info here.
Asheville, NC: May Day celebration with music, bands, food, and more. Event info here.
Richmond, VA: May Day celebration in a park. More info here.
Join the Richmond IWW along with other RVA Left orgs this May Day for a celebration of worker's power and labor history with an open to the public banquet, organizing workshops, music, lit, and more!https://t.co/awseXpsKzZ
— Richmond IWW (@RichmondIWW) April 15, 2018
— D.C. IWW (@DC_IWW) April 17, 2018
Gainesville, FL: On May Day, “Join IWOC and FTP to rally and hand out flyers about UF, Gainesville and Alachua County contracting with slave labor from FL’s prison system.” More info here.
Then, “Join labor and immigrant groups in a celebration of International Workers’ Day and demonstration for immigrants’ and prisoners’ rights. There will be live music, food, speakers, and tabling by political organizations.” Info here.
As over the last several years, Alt-Right, militia, and Trump supporters may use the backdrop of May Day as an opportunity to mobilize in the streets to confront “ANTIFA” or whatever catch phrase is trendy on InfoWars. We’re really trying to get “LITERAL VAMPIRE POT BELLIED GOBLINS” trending, so please help us out.
In Los Angeles, the ‘United Patriot National Front,’ a collection of neo-Nazis and far-Right trolls that includes Baked Alaska and Antonio Foreman who both attended the ‘Unite the Rally’ in Charlottesville on August 12th in 2017. According to posts on social media, it appears that the far-Right group may attempt to come out to counter-protest a large May Day march in LA.
Heads up #LosAngeles, #SoCal 's premier crypto-fash/ drama club "UPNF" plans to counter protest this year's #mayday rally. If anything like their recent #chicanopark escapades we can expect lots of harassment and veiled threats of violence. 1/ pic.twitter.com/Ed2dGeiI9O
— Ocft (@Ocft161) April 16, 2018
Meanwhile in Seattle, far-Right trolls are encouraging groups to come to the city in order to stop “rioting.” The event page features a drawing of militia members holding guns and facing off against people wearing masks, and includes the words “BERKELEY – PORTLAND – CHARLOTTESVILLE – BOSTON.”
As always, do your research and stay safe!