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!
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