portland independent media center  
images audio video
feature article portland metro

actions & protests | labor may day 2001-2012

At the May Day 2003 march in downtown

From the open publishing newswire: I showed up at the May Day staging area (corner of NW Park and Burnside) at about 3pm. The march itself was scheduled for 4:30pm. By the time I arrived, the turnout was still quite small, probably not more than a hundred people. The first thing I noticed was a Maypole set up at the south end of the park, where about twenty people were enacting a traditional Maypole dance, as befits an event which is a combination ancient pagan folk holiday celebrating the advent of Spring, and a workers holiday celebrating the struggles of workers. The folks enacting this archaic ritual seemed a bit bemused, in a self-conscious way, but a lot of goodnatured goofiness was enjoyed by all.

A stage was set up on a rented flatbed truck at the northwest corner of the park. I didn't pay much attention to the speeches, though I caught a few snippets. There were speakers from the Carpenter's Union (who were instrumental in organizing the stage and equipment and other details of the event), the Socialist Party, and the local IWW chapter. By the time the march started, the crowd had swelled to between 500 and a thousand people. As we marched through the canyons of tall buildings downtown, the drummers acquired an impressive verve that more than made up for the relatively modest turnout. People carried banners and buttons denouncing the war and calling to defend workers rights. At one point early on the Critical Mass intersected the march, at that time pursued by a not yet too aggressive police presence.
[ Read More... ]

mayday - festive, even if it wasn't interesting
at least it was nice out. when I arrived there were already maybe a hundered people happily loitering about the north park blocs, and quickly more filtered in. the speakers went about more or less unheard by the majority of the people in the park, and some, myself included, didn't much care to hear the white men go about their schtick in front of a banner that said 'your country, your freedom, VOTE'.

soon the IWW feeder march arrives to much fanfare and much in the way of black and red balloons. seeing the black bloc gals and fellows marching with little red and black balloons serves as a highlight to the day. the march starts, and the banners upfront are made small by comparison to the looming black star carried by two poles that says 'achieve' with a circle A.
[ Read More... ]

What has happened to Indymedia and to May Day?
After yesterday'd dissapointing May Day march, I decided to see what interesting analysis I might find here on Indymedia. I expected to see some critique of the march, or at least some reporting on it. With the exception of Andy Davis' comments on the permit, and a few pictures, I found very little. Instead I saw several anti-semitic and homophobic posts, presumably from the same person. Some blather about how Jews have taken over Portland so that ugly lesbians can adopt children or some bullshit. Has Indymedia been completely taken over by right-wing trolls and their ilk? Has this little experiment in open publishing run its course? I don't know what the answer is, but if something isn't done, Indymedia will cease to be an effective tool for progressive change.

Back to May Day, what a dissapointment! One would think that getting a permit would help ensure more participation from mainstream union folks, and less participation from the police. In fact, it seemed to work the other way around. Yesterday's march had a much smaller turnout than the last two year's. Andy Davis mentioned May Day 2001, where organizers were able to force the police to have a minimal presence. This year, organizers not only retreated on the important political and tactical position of no permits, they apparently failed to get anything in return for this major concession.
[ Read More... ]

Pictures: May Day 2003