The historical context|
May 1st is International Workers' Day, and is celebrated in every country but the United States and Canada. The holiday actually began in the US.
Mayday commemorates the 1887 murder by the courts in Chicago of eight anarchists who were active in the struggle for the eight hour day. A short history of events leading up to the Haymarket riot and the execution of the Haymarket martyrs on fabricated charges can be read here.
Authorities in the United States, afraid that international solidarity might actual be realized, moved the recognition of labor from May 1 to the meaningless Labor Day in September. Many working class and union activists refuse to submit to this travesty, and will again this year take to the streets on May 1st. Events are scheduled around the country, and the world.
No permission asked, and none needed: May Day 2001 in Portland
As reported in the mainstream news, the Mayday Coalition has refused to cooperate with the authorities by applying for a permit, arguing that the rights of Free Speech and Free Assembly are all the permit required. A spokesman for the Mayday coalition has explained the stance of the organization in a letter to the Oregonian.
Organizers have planned for an orderly demonstration of solidarity for workers around the globe. The demonstration will be a non-violent assertion of the rights of workers. An account of last year's altercation by Dave Mazza gives the impression of a police riot, by no means justified by the events. Organizers are hoping that the police can act more professionally this year.
There is good news on Mayday 2001 from City Hall. According to a story in the Oregonian of 23 April, the City and police have demonstrated a committment to respect for the rights of Mayday participants.
The hotly debated issue of a permit for Mayday was rendered moot, as the City Council has acquired a permit for the event. Organizers expect a peaceful event "We are asking everyone -- police and the public -- to conduct themselves peacefully", said Andy Davis, speaking for the Mayday Coalition.
Discussion between members of the Coalition and City Officials became somewhat heated on the subject of masks. Coalition members pointedly told the authorities that "it is not illegal for protestors to wear masks."
The discussions last night opened a channel of communications that will remain open through Mayday. This will tend to facilitate rumor control and to reduce misunderstandings and overreaction.
The Mayday march will start at approximately 4:00 p.m. at the North Park Blocks in Portland. A great deal of planning has gone into making the Mayday events peaceful. The assertion of workers rights, FTAA notwithstanding, is not a crime. Thousands will be watching the Portland Police on Mayday.