Filed under: Analysis, Anarchist Movement, Featured, Video
May Day 2017 took place at what felt like a crossroads for the anarchist and larger anti-authoritarian and autonomist movement. While resistance leading up to the inauguration of Trump had been fierce and multifaceted, with a massive outpouring of action that took place across the US following Trump’s electoral win, it was soon followed by widespread clampdown. This took the form of mass arrests, the handing out of felony charges like Halloween candy, grand juries, proposed anti-protest laws, and house raids that all attempted to scare people off the streets.
But May Day also took place in the middle of an intense amount of anarchist and antifascist activity directed against the far-Right. In March we saw numerous mobilizations in support of Trump, and while they had low numbers, they clearly included a fascist presence within them. In April, we saw more clashes and heated demonstrations in Alabama, Kentucky, and most notably in Berkeley, California. Out of the latter we saw the growth of a cult of personality around Kyle Chapman, or ‘Based Stickman,’ who has attempted to grow his group of ‘Alt-Knights’ under the umbrella of the Proud Boys.
This tension played out on the streets of the US, as anarchists, anti-capitalists, and antifascists faced off in numerous cities with members of the far-Right. In New York and Los Angeles, this led to clashes with the much smaller groups of people on the far-Right, Trump supporters, and the Alt-Right, while in Austin, Texas, a collection of neo-Nazis and open carry activists were successful and shutting down a militant May Day march. In cities like Olympia, vigilantes also attempted to attack the May Day black bloc, while in other cities, Trump supporters and Alt-Right trolls were so small in number that they were largely ignored or quickly ejected from whatever event they tried to disrupt.
In short, May Day 2017 showed again that a heavily militarized police is not the only threat that anarchist militants face on the streets nowadays – we must also be on guard against the far-Right.
However, May Day this year also showed on thing very clearly: we aren’t going to be scared off the streets. If the wave of repression was supposed to stop people from engaging in militant demonstrations in the wake of J20, then it didn’t work, and people are still coming out to confrontational mobilizations. But another thing is also clear, it is time in our cities and towns to take training seriously. What does it mean to not only be in a bloc of people, but also move as one? What does it mean to have each others backs and watch out for each other? These are things we can’t just read about online, it takes hard work and dedication, training, and spending time with our comrades getting used to moving together.
But still, across North America, and across the world, anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and autonomists represented hard this year, flew their colors, and organized a broad series of events, intervened in some interesting and combative ways, and also pushed back against the insurgent far-Right. This dedication and commitment is also being recognized by many people outside of our circles. In Philadelphia for instance, when the black bloc approached the larger rally, people began to clap and cheer. Let’s build on this. How can we popularize, spread, and vindicate our tactics to the wider public? But moreover, how can we build real relationships which break down walls and barriers?
There is no better time than now, as the Democrats gaze longingly at the 2018 elections, as anger and fear over the new Republican healthcare plan grows. For those that seek a grassroots, anti-capitalist, and autonomous alternative to the established order, we are going to have to work hard to build a robust and entrenched movement that can begin to offer an alternative to the stale, bureaucratic, and milquetoast DNC.
While much work remains ahead of us, especially this summer and into the fall, May Day 2017 will remain another example of how our movement is both growing and unafraid to take the streets in the face of threats from all sides. What follows is a collection of May Day highlights from rebels across so-called North American and the world. Check out our social media round up here.
In Bellingham, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) held a ‘March Against the Billionaires,’ that was followed by a community May Day celebration. Check out pictures and video here.
In Eugene, OR, people held a May Day rally which featured a mock press conference, free burritos, and a Richard Spencer punching photo booth!
In Olympia and Portland, militant marches took place, both of which have been written about in detail here on IGD. Check these report backs here, here, here, here, and here. A May Day march also took place in Spokane, WA. Also in Portland, the Burgerville Workers Union of the IWW celebrated their one year anniversary. Support Portland arrestees here and Olympia comrades here.
In Seattle, after much fan fare about the yearly riots and aggressive FBI harassment, the local elite and police community patted themselves on the back when large scale demonstrations did not materialize in the Downtown. Seems the joke was on them, as a large scale anti-prison block party took off without a hitch. Read this report back from Puget Sound Anarchists here.
In both Southern California and the Bay Area, lots of May Day events took place. In LA, Trump supporters attempted to confront May Day marches and were largely pushed back by Antifa. Read a report here.
— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) May 1, 2017
In Santa Ana, anarchists participated in a May Day march.
Yesterday while you were working or watching TV.Ayer mientras tu trabajabas o mirabas la TV.✊✊
由 Teo Reyes 发布于 2017年5月2日周二
In the bay area, mass marches took place, including student walk-outs and a strike by the ILWU at the Port of Oakland. Protests and shutdowns also took place outside of ICE facilities.
In Denton, Texas the IWW held an event in a public square. Numerous events were also held throughout Colorado. In Austin, Texas, confrontations between neo-Nazis linked up with open carry activists were successful in stopping a militant march. Read an analysis of that confrontation here.
— Neighbor Democracy (@industrialdemoc) May 2, 2017
— Neighbor Democracy (@industrialdemoc) May 2, 2017
In Ann Arbour, Michigan, anarchists marched and organized an all day event. Read report here.
In Chicago, members of Black Rose Anarchist Federation and the IWW took part of a ‘Red and Black Bloc.’ Confrontations with a handful of Trump supporters also took place.
In St. Paul, the police chief’s car was vandalized.
Twin Cities IWW also wrote an analysis of strike action on the day, which you can read here.
In New York City, anarchists organized a wide range of events, including a militant march. Proud Boys and other Alt-Right trolls were confronted. In Buffalo, banners were dropped and an Alt-Right speaking event was disrupted. Read report here.
In New Haven, CT, anarchists formed a bloc at the May Day march. View more photos here.
Durham, North Carolina, anarchists held another amazing block party!
In Washington, DC, people rallied in support of those facing charges from actions on January 20th. Pickets also took place against the firing of an IWW organizer at Whole Foods.
Greenville, North Carolina had an unpermitted march, a first for them, including many wobblies and anarchists.
In New Orleans, people also faced down out of town neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates. Read report here. In Fort Lauderdale, FL, anarchists also repelled several Alt-Right trolls from a May Day event. Read report here.
In Nashville, TN, antifascists squared off with police and the far-Right. Read report here.