Dustin M. Slaughter of the David and Goliath Project has been invited to blog here at The Dissenter throughout May Day. Slaughter has done some great work covering the Occupy movement through social media and blogging since the early days of Occupy. As mentioned, we will be doing shifts so we can cover as much of the May Day action as possible. Slaughter is taking the first shift. We will announce ourselves when we begin a shift. We have four shifts planned for the day.
12:40 pm – This blog post is closed now. Updates on May Day action resume here.
11:38 am – Hundreds of Caterpillar plant workers in Joilet, Illinois have gone on strike today, refusing to accept a new contract that offers no pay increase and includes higher health insurance costs.
Meanwhile, Occupy Chicago is demonstrating in front of a Bank of America branch, reportedly trying to blockade the building. Heavy bike police presence. Better_Red is livestreaming right now.
Josh Harkinson from Mother Jones has also posted a video of alleged Black Bloc vandalism in San Francisco’s Mission District from earlier this morning. According to Harkinson, Occupy San Francisco has reportedly denounced these incidents.
And finally, @SabzBrach is reporting that Occupy Philadelphia demonstrators are en-route to a Wells Fargo in the city’s financial district to kick off a day of “Bank Strikes.” A DHS vehicle is nearby. @SeanWestWispy gives an explanation as to why Occupy Philadelphia is targeting this particular bank today:
11:02 am – Tim Pool is reporting at least two arrests so far, including a military veteran who was arrested for standing in the street with an American flag. Protesters are returning to Bryant Park to rest, before more action in an hour. Approximately 1,000 people at the park right now.
10:48 am – Occupy Wall Street’s twitter account is reporting multiple canine units at Grand Central Station – as well as National Guard units armed with machine guns:
Meanwhile, outside billionaire John Paulson’s hedge fund office, protesters play “Which Side Are You On?”
Also, Occupy Detroit will rally at Clark Park to stand in solidarity with Western International High School students who recently staged a walk-out over budget cuts. Occupiers then plan a re-occupation of Grand Circus Park, the site of their previous encampment.
10:17 am – Occupy Chicago is rallying at LaSalle and Jackson and will then march, picket, and attempt to close tax-dodging Bank of America. Check out their comprehensive livestream page. The Woodlawn Clinic occupiers are reportedly going on trial today as well:
Portland high school students are gathering now to protest education cuts too.
9:54 am – Mobile picket teams, as part of OWS’ 99 Pickets, have dispersed to a number of banks throughout Manhattan. Tim Pool is livestreaming from a Bank of America now, and reporting that “riot police” presence has increased. NYPD legal observers have arrived too.
A Golden Gate Bridge ferry picket has started in San Francisco too. Check out Alphaqupman’s livestream.
9:30 am – National Nurses United in the Bay area will be walking off the job starting at 7:00 am PST to “protest cuts to patient care and RN standards.”
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators formed a picket outside of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and are now relating stories of how service cuts affect their lives, via Jeff Rae:
May Day is off to a strong start across the country – and the world.
9:01 am – A “pop-up” occupation has formed at Bryant Park with heavy police and mainstream media presence – and the number of demonstrators is growing by the minute. “99 Pickets” is underway as well. Check out Tim Pool’s livestream here.
7:56 am – Occupy Harrisburg’s “Light Brigade” had a message for early-morning commuters:
5:57 am – There are picket lines forming at Los Angeles International Airport involving airport workers, L.A. labor unions, Occupy Los Angeles protesters, and religious organizations demonstrating against unfair labor practices. Livestream.
Happy May Day everyone!
Some occupations, such as Occupy San Francisco, kicked off the holiday with an early morning march – but the event took something of a downward turn, when either Black Bloc or agent provocateurs vandalized a police station and damaged some cars and small businesses in the Mission District. There is debate within the OSF community as to who was behind the damage:
It is the day that many participants in the Occupy movement have been waiting for, the moment that many organizers have been hoping would lead to a renewal of energy: May Day.
Dustin M. Slaughter and I will be live blogging May Day. We will be doing shifts. But, first, before we get to live blogging, here are some quick thoughts:
May Day has traditionally been known as a day of mass workers’ strikes – otherwise known as the General Strike. But in an economy where, by some estimates, the unemployment rate hovers at close to 13%, and many Americans are precariously underemployed, how will the Occupy movement redefine what a General Strike looks like?
Will the “Peoples’ Power Car and Bike Caravan” through Los Angeles to strike at their city’s financial district; a permitted and potentially enormous march through NYC, with a number of unions and community groups – as well as a separate “Wild Cat” march which has the New York Police Department on edge; a “Strike the Banks Day” in Philadelphia as well as “bike bloc” action; a block party in Boston’s financial district; and a shut down of the Golden Gate Bridge ferry service – for starters – in Oakland—Will this at all play a role in redefining what people typically might think would happen in a General Strike?
Establishment and law enforcement hysteria is also something to monitor. For the most part, warnings of “violence” or “riots,” etc, have probably had as much impact as they will have on the day. But, something to watch is how this focus on “violence” from the many May Day protests will influence media coverage.
The New York Times published a post that seemed to hone in on the probability that “property damage” or “confrontations” would occur. Occupy Wall Street organizer told the NYT that any “violence” at Occupy Wall Street’s May Day actions will be the result of the NYPD. University of California president Mark Yudoff, according to The Nation‘s Jon Wiener, has issued a “travel alert” urging everyone to “avoid all protests.” NYPD raided the homes of at least three activists. And, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has put out an article with the headline, “Major backups, violence expected Tuesday in Seattle.”
There are many key issues, which the Occupy movement will raise today. But, how will this focus on violence, similar to the focus on violence during the major November 17 action last fall, make it difficult to have a meaningful discussion about these issues? It would seem if violence does occur, that is the story. And if it does not occur, then that is the story as well (though it will no doubt feature reminders of how violence could have happened so it was important to be prepared but law enforcement did an excellent job and deserves a pat on the back).