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MAY DAY, MAY DAY: Is help on the way?

After attending the May Day march, I wonder what exactly is going on here? The history of May Day is a dispute between union members and anarchists, but at its heart, May Day is a celebration for the working class. The struggles of class war and the fight for workers rights is the spirit of May Day...and, you know, it seems Portland has lost its spirit.
I started on the march at the IWW hall, where the radical feeder march was leaving from. I got there shortly before they pushed off. Around noon-ish, someone stood on a chair and gathered peoples attention. He asked questions about how/where people would feel comfortable with this feeder march. Overwhelmingly the people gathered wanted to take the street and march across the Burnside Bridge without a permit, regardless of the police. I think only one person raised a hand for marching on the sidewalk.

So the people gathered together and cops blocked the traffic. Moto-cops blocked burnside as the marchers went across the street and the no-war drum corps was at the head of the march, standing in the street, the police seemed to be okay with this. And in the street, the march left. It made it nearly halfway across the bridge on the street, witth the police constantly pushing the marchers towards the sidewalk.

At this point I had rode my bicycle on ahead and was at the north park blocks where there were some speakers...the people I spoke witih there were disenfranchised with the speakers and aloof about the existance of a radical contingent. I dont know what happened during the radical march, but when they made it to the park blocks, they had control of the street again.

It was nice when they showed, becasue the drums drowned out the speakers! Notes on the speakers: one sang solidarity forever, one said that all we need to do is have hope and vote, others blathered on and on about various things. I was dismayed, they seemed out of touch, there was no mention of working class solidarity or anything current. The speakers seemed lost and out of the loop, it was sad.

Then the permitted march went left and went in a circle to find Dennis Kucinich. Some people arent happy that he was a speaker at the march. It was the first time I had heard him speak, he is a poltician, he talks like a politician. Shortly afterwards someone attempted to burn an american flag and a union member was unhappy with this and attempted to wrestle the flag away to save it from being burned.

Then people marched more. They stopped for at least two other speakers, I didnt pay any attention. Eventually the march made it back to the N Park Blocks. I was happy when that happened. I was unhappy with the outcome of the march.

So, thats the news of the march, now heres the critique: there is shit going down in Portland currently and we need to stand up to the powers that be to fight it. And the shit is fucked up, the police are shooting working class people, yet the supposed bastions of the working class, the union members and may day speakers didnt mention this. Dennis Kucinich is camped out in Portland, and is distracting organizers from the local relevnace. Federal politics arent going to change the police in Portland. The workers could though.

There are countless other problems that portland is currently facing, and having hope and voting isnt goiing to fix them. Firing police officers isnt going to fix them. What might fix them is if people started to stand up for what they beleived in, stopped embroiling themselves in political infighting, start talking effective tactics and carrying them out.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that what we might need is: SOLIDARITY. The may Day march was without solifdarity, at one point I overheard a Labor Organizer singing "solidarity WHATEVER"...and I thought, how fucking true, you know?

So, overall, the march was not exciting, effective, or worthwhile. There is no solidarity and the things we are talking about currently arent helping. Lets think about how we could help, and how things could be better, how we could actually rise up asd a unified people and take back what has been stolen from us, reclaim the earth that has been co-opted by big business. Lets connect the dots and start to build the networks that are necesary to take our lives back!
Around 200 Cops on Stakeout Duty 03.May.2004 15:46


The citizens were recently brought up to speed--at least for the moment--on what it might take to avoid being put into a situation for getting shot by point blank, rapid fire and killed, and then tazed for a couple of minutes by members of the PPB™ mercenary gang, while seated and belted in your own car: don't fail to make eye contact!

The throngs of cops in some kind of uniform in and around and freely joining and moving through the May Day (sic) parade, of all stripes--bicyclops, commando-ninjas, strutting brass--were nearly 100% wearing their dark glasses!

I was desparate to avoid being targeted for not making eye contact, and felt frustrated, until recalling that even though, at times, the darkened windows of a car can prevent seeing what's inside, at other times, we have learned, one can see all if necessary. So I convinced myself that I could see the eyeballs of the uniformed gang members through their dark glasses!

BTW...what eyewear were Sery and Macomber wearing when they were stalking Jahar Perez? Were their eyeballs visible? Was anything said in the "legal" proceedings that gave answers to these questions?

May Day Routine 03.May.2004 17:09


May Day is my favorite holiday. Being an anarchist from Chicago, I have a special affinity for the day and what it celebrates. I always look forward to May Day every year. I'm afraid though that I'm losing my enthusiasim.

The day has been taken over by politically and socially conservative members of the carpenters union. The two big problems I had with this May Day was the fact that the union folks organizing the march got a permit and work with the police - this on the heels of the murder of James Perez - and invited a Presidential candidate to speak. Why didn't the march make police violence one of the themes of the march? What issue is of more pressing importance right now in Portland? And what gives them the right to introduce Presidential politics into an anarchist, working-class holiday? This years May Day was lame, and only about half the number turned up compared to the last few years. I'm afraid, if it stays in the hands of the carpenters, May Day will turn into an event undistinguisable from a mainstream Labor Day parade. Boring!

Regarding Unity in the US 03.May.2004 19:52

JP Cupp, Iraqi Resistance Solidarity Network anti_imperialist_solidarity@yahoo.com

For one it is nice to see that you are thinking and attempting to find independent answers to things. This is essential for winning the ideologicial struggle, and for improving our strategies and tactics.

Before I critique your piece let me say

1. Dennis Kucinich is a very real enemy. He is objectively part of the Imperialist pole , all be the liberal-"left" of such said pole. In otherwords for anti-imperialists, HE IS DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO RESISTANCE, AND OBJECTIVELY PART OF THE FASCISM IN POWER OF OUR ERA.

2. I believe you sincere in your call for unity.

Now then,

We are living in the epicentre of the Imperialist Global Dictatorship. A Labor arstocricy exists. Zionists have huge control over the democratic part and the "peace" movement. Pro-US sentiment, is OBJECTIVELY A STRENGTHENING FORCE FOR FASCISM, and our number one strategy domestically must be TO CONFRONT NATIONAL CHAUVENISM AND OPERTUNISM, MAINLY ZIONISM AND PRO-US SENTIMENT.

You said ( and I can relate to): "... the police are shooting working class people, yet the supposed bastions of the working class, the union members and may day speakers didnt mention this."

My Reply:
Friend, this is intentional and not accidental. It is a product of unprincipled pragmatism, and if you are dedicated about this, you should form you block and prepare an ideological attack against them that effectively corresponds with reality.

Our primary goal if we are serious about revolution or even day to day "local issues" is to set out redlines of demarcation, rally around INTERNATIONALISM, build Resistance and Pro-Resistance forces in the US, conduct the ideological struggle and fight like hell against the Pro-Imperialist who are running the Anti-war and anti-globalist movements who will surely slit its throat. Lay down the dividing line of "were do you stand?".

We must ruthlessly combat real enemies and be vigourously struggle with those who are merely misguided and backwords. Mao would talk here about the differance between "antagonistic and non-antagonistic contradictions between the people".

Objectively, the primary front against Capitalism and Fascism is in Iraq and Palestine. No matter what setbacks or ideological differances, Arab and Islamic Resistance is leading the charge of anti-fascism. The labor aristrocracy has lead the way, INTENTIONALLY, to isolating this call from our fronts against fascism and imperialism. Their are those who call themselves anti-fascists because they tailor their quotes to "retro" reds and fight Hitler and Nazis 60 yrs after they are dead. The real anti-fascists, are those objectively fighting, in ways that correspond with their on the ground reality, the Zionist Entity and US Imperialism. If we unite in solidarity, as you suggest, we blow the biggest geo-political struggle of the century. We also do no justice to the efforts of smashing Killer Cops as you suggest!

John Paul Cupp

DK supports workers 03.May.2004 21:17


You guys got it all messed up about the May Day March and Dennis Kucinich. DK not only supports workers, he observeed the march and applauded the marchers, spoke to the marchers, and walked with the marchers. What other presidential candidate has done that? He is a part of the establishment, yes, and he is working within it to change the direction of democrats.

Anarchists' resist, and I dig that. Do something more, though. Get the people rallied up. Get a mass movement going, and checkout DK. He is FOR what you want.

The police, though, are too much. Tough guys, tough killers. They tooled around in a show of force. Who needs them. They've generally lost my respect.

Meanwhile 03.May.2004 22:43

Den Mark, Vancouver

Meanwhile, the black paper, The Skanner, this week endorses Kerry & Francesconi. So much for "the people" getting it. "The people" do not want liberation. They want tv & cheese turds. There goes the revolution! Sold out for tv & cheese turds. And some here dare to castigate Kucinich, who is in fact working hard for universal health care, universal education, peace department, green energy, & so on. How 'bout a little mature intelligent discernment, please. That would be refreshing. When the count is in, & if justice & peace fall short of double digits in Oregon, it will be partly because some petulant "radicals" & "anarchists" joined "liberals" & "conservatives", in failing to stand with Kucinich. Justice & peace are on the ballot. Look for them. If you fail to vote for them, you are part of the problem. Some here are making "anarchism" sound just as dogmatic & partisan as dems & reps. Do not turn your backs on justice & peace just so you can claim unswerving loyalty to yet another "-ism".

Justice! Peace! Kucinich!

hmm 03.May.2004 23:09

usually I like what Den Mark has to say

I'm not one of those anarchists to condemn people for voting, but come on - voting=justice+peace? That's a little wacky, man. Voting takes all of a few seconds, and your big dreams of "double digits in Oregon for Justice and Peace" does not equal justice and peace, does it? Just how many years are you willing to wait for Justice and Peace while the earthshattering significance of the K-man's double-digit showing in Oregon sinks in and they become the progressive party of the people?

Most of us have a deeper understanding of the political realities we face than this, right?

May Day article from PSU's Daily Vanguard newspaper 04.May.2004 01:15


Fight for your right
A diverse group celebrates May Day with a common connection of working class identity

Jered Fisher -  jeredf@vg.pdx.edu
May 04, 2004

Union members, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his supporters, anarchists and socialists gathered in the North Park Blocks to march through downtown Portland this Saturday in recognition of May Day, also known as the international workers holiday.

"May Day started out as the struggle for the eight hour day," Mark Downs, an International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 member, said.

The controversial theme of this year's march was the quickly approaching presidential election. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich spoke at a planned stop in the march.

Some felt Kucinich's presence at the march was not fitting with the history of May Day. "We hate that a presidential candidate is here - we didn't come here for that," said Jane, a PSU student, "We are here because we care and want to show support [for workers rights]."

"Politicians have sold us working people out before," Dan Davis, a former PSU student and member of the Industrial Workers of the World, said. "His people hijacked a lot of other people's organizing for this event. This is May Day. I kinda feel like [Kucinich] should leave us alone." Davis said he supported a grassroots approach to political organizing.

Kucinich responded to criticism of his presence by saying he came from a labor background and has been a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees.

"My presence here today is in solidarity with all those here today and their issues," Kucinich commented to a crowd assembled at the corner of Northwest Everett Street and Eighth Avenue.

Kucinich outlined his platform, which includes issues such as peace, healthcare for all, overturning the USA PATRIOT Act, and workers rights.

"Mayday is about recognizing the long history of workers struggle," Kucinich yelled from a podium on a flat bed pickup truck.

Despite the controversy over a presidential candidate attending a workers holiday, unionists, community organizers and PSU students all had something to say.

Stacy Wolf, a member of the IWW 650 social services branch spoke at a pre-rally at her union hall on 6th and East Burnside. Wolf and her fellow workers recently won union recognition at the Portland's Women's Crisis Line. She cited benefits and wage increases as gains her union will obtain during its first contract negotiation. "It's wonderful, festive, and empowering to stand up with other workers," Wolf said.

People milled about at 6th Avenue and East Burnside, drinking coffee, debating and telling stories.

In the Back to Back Cafe, a worker owned cafe that shares a building with the IWW hall, ILWU Local Eight member Jack Mulcanhy was chatting with other longshore union members, telling a story about their union.

"We organized the unemployed in the 1930's ... only when workers banded together did they make gains." Mulcanhy said. "May Day is working class struggle to better our own working conditions."

Photo: Matt Wong
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have a long history of supporting labor rights causes, and had a strong presence
Around 100 IWW members and supporters marched from their union hall in an un-permitted, "anti-capitalist" "feeder" march to the main May Day rally. Drummers provided a beat that was accompanied by a chant of "Class War!" ILWU Local eight, IWW, and the Laborers International Union banners were carried and red and black anarchist flags were mixed in among the feeder march.

The Portland Peaceful Response Coalition carried a banner that quoted the 19th century Russian anarchist Michael Bakunin, reading "Liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality."

IWW members had planned on marching on the sidewalk, said Jefferson Laffey, an IWW member, "but we were hoping to take a lane (of the street) ... we accomplished more than we planned."

Motorcycle and bicycle cops contained the feeder march to one lane on Burnside Street. Portland Police Bureau Lieutenant Dominick Jacobellis said the police were making sure the "anti-capitalist" marchers made it to the May Day rally safely.

"We're not going to get into a tiff of tattle over you guys in the street," Jacobellis commented.

Johanna Brenner, the PSU Women's Studies department chair took part in the feeder march. Brenner commented that she was "acknowledging a historic movement for workers rights to organize without interference from their employer, the right of safety and a living wage, and the right to a eight hour day, which Bush is destroying."

Photo: Matt Wong
Marchers head down a downtown street Saturday afternoon.
Brenner connected May Day to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying it is a protest against "the working class being used for imperialist war ... the working class is sent to die for the interests of the rich."

Michael Conner, a Portland State University Faculty Association member commented, "All over the world employers are creating fewer and fewer jobs and the ones they create are part-time without health care ... workers all over the world are protesting."

The feeder march was greeted with cheers when it arrived at the North Park Blocks. Angel Stone, a self-identified PSU dropout, commented that "I'm really glad that the longshore was marching with the anarchists ... the solidarity is going both ways."

Wolf spoke again at the North Park Blocks on the subject of revolution. "Revolution is such a dirty little word, but we all yearn for it," Wolf said. Wolf laid out a program for revolution, saying the empowerment of rank-and-file workers and joining together into "one big union" would lead to "taking back what is ours."

Wolf asserted that workers are capable of running their own lives, saying "workers' revolution means we never have to make the decision between health care and food again. We will have access to health care, leisure time, food, and housing."

Mixed feelings 04.May.2004 09:54


This whole issue gives me mixed feelings.

On one hand, I didn't like the way some in the mainstream labor movement attempted to a) whitewash the role anarchists played in May Day and to b) deliver preachy sermons to radicals as to why we are "wrong" in our tactics. I didn't like all the cops in the march and REALLY don't like hearing that some of the more mainstream organizers INVITED the cops to march amongst the rest of us. Especially in light of all the recent killings of people of color by cops in Portland.

However, not everyone in Portland is a radical. In fact, practically everyone is NOT a radical. If our politics are to be more than lifestylist cliquishness, it means being out and interacting with those who don't share them. If you respect the human spirit enough to want to free people from arbitrary authority, then you should be able to respect people enough to realize that they won't all see it your way, and that any process of bringing them around is going to take time and won't happen overnight.

I'm REALLY GLAD to see some mainstream unions celebrating the REAL labor day, the one whose history is born of class struggle (a struggle whose history demonstrates just what a bunch of rapacious vampires the capitalist elites really are at heart) instead of the proclamations of a ruling class eager to paper over that history. Sure, it's just a small step but unless that initial step is taken you'll never complete that journey of a thousand miles.

In this light, it doesn't piss me off one bit that the Carpenter's Union got a parade permit. Ritualized clashes with the cops are becoming a stale tactic; if avoiding that enabled even one honest face-to-face discussion between a radical and a liberal, I'd say that's worth it. Moreover, the radical feeder march gave those of us who wanted to the opportunity to demonstrate our disgust at the way the right to protest is evolving into a privilege.

But there's no such thing as a free lunch. That which has the possibility of radicalizing the mainstream also as the possibility of diluting our message. To that end, what sorts of things can be done to address the whitewashing and the sermonizing I mentioned in the second paragraph? Signs saying things like "The Haymarket Martyrs Were Anarchists?" Handing out flyers giving the accepted history of the event (i.e. that nobody knows who threw that bomb and some evidence shows the bomb-thrower may have been a agent provacateur? Having our own speakers give the real history? A heckling campaign if they don't let other speakers give the real history? Other ideas?


The trouble with May Day 04.May.2004 10:49

tsalagi red

I essentially agree with xyzzy, but I have a different bone to pick. I have participated in May Day for the past five years, and I have seen it steadily decline. Last year it was half the size of the year before. This year it was half again. I think that the "mainstream" leftists and labor unions have killed it with lack of imagination. By excessively controlling the "message", as good as it might be, and by insisting on two full boring hours of "preaching to the choir", they have made it almost unbearable, even for many of us old lefties.

The first few years I participated were festive, the pagans felt welcomed and there were maypoles and costumes (Mayday, by the way, didn't "begin" in 1886, but has been going on for centuries). I attended one of this years planning meetings, and the organizers kept saying that this event was supposed to be fun and a celebration. If two hours of boring rhetoric is what you folks consider fun, then I vote with Emma Goldman. I don't want to be part of your revolution.

other than 04.May.2004 14:18

JP's predictable garbage

this has been a good, thoughtful thread!
i want to see more of this on pdx-indy.

workers need to strike 04.May.2004 14:53

stop paying taxes

I mean really what and the hell was this march about again? Was it about the workers that are PAYING THE TAXES to fund the wars and aren't willing to sacrifice their comfort zones to address the serious issue of CONSUMPTION and CAPITALISM. Consumption causes the need to go to war and the taxes pay for it. Was this addressed at the march? Probably not, no let's go march around and pretend that we give a shit about what is going all the while only concerned with petty selfish wants. LET'S MARCH!!! March for what worker's rights? Good luck. What do unions actually do with their in the box perspective on politics and how to truely address issues? Please. they just perpetuate the problem. GO TO WORK...PAY YOUR TAXES...OBEY OUR ORDERS...CONSUME WHAT WE SELL YOU...AND GO BACK TO WORK..."Hey I heard about this march that is going on downtown, I bet I'll run into someone I know"...Get with it please. The only way we are going to achieve any real change is that if we stop participating in this cruel twisted system. The system is dependent on the workers, but if all the workers want is to WORK, CONSUME, and DIE, then the workers will continue to get screwed and the whole shit house is going to go up in flames. Get on one side of the fence or the other and do something that actually CAN make a difference and if your standing on the fence get a bullet proof vest. Peace

Edication 04.May.2004 16:20

WB Travis

We are living in the epicentre of the Imperialist Global Dictatorship. A Labor arstocricy exists. Zionists have huge control over the democratic part and the "peace" movement. Pro-US sentiment, is OBJECTIVELY A STRENGTHENING FORCE FOR FASCISM, and our number one strategy domestically must be TO CONFRONT NATIONAL CHAUVENISM AND OPERTUNISM, MAINLY ZIONISM AND PRO-US SENTIMENT.


Might I suggest a remedial spelling course - it would punch up your stirring rhetoric no end.

Nowhere 04.May.2004 19:23

Den Mark, Vancouver

I went back & read my comment & saw that nowhere did i say that voting for Kucinich translates directly into justice & peace. Voting may be either something big or not so big, but it is something. And i agree, it takes little time. So why not just do it. My sputtering was mainly that i see no point in attacking a guy just because he happens to be a legislator, when he has clearly been doing what i (we?) would like all legislators to be doing. How long am i willing to wait for j & p? Well, actually, i'm NOT "willing", but i've been part of The Movement for 44+ years & have been forced to wait for many things, as have uncountable other activists. I know that democrats are about as bad as republicans. That's why i decided to work for Kucinich. I get to take dems by the collective collar & shake till their teeth rattle. Right now & right here, we either choose to send a shock wave eastward or we do not. If Oregon voted 15 or 20% or more for Kucinich, that would be a shock wave. I hope it happens. And of course i know that dems would likely act as if nothing happened, but they would be lying & again showing who they really are. I like ripping off masks. It feels damn good!