Occupy May Day: What To Look For Today

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The idea of a general
strike has a lot of resonance in the Occupy Movement. Last November, thousands
of activists converged on Frank Ogawa Plaza
in Oakland for a localized strike that
eventually shut down the Port
of Oakland. For many, it was
the most iconic moment of the movement thus far. When occupiers again shut the
Port down on December 12 in a coordinated West Coast action, the idea of a May
Day strike was born. Since then, Occupy groups in more than 100 cities have
signed on, and each with a unique set of tactics and goals. So far, those
tactics have been surprisingly diverse, from anti-foreclosure occupations to
marches and sit-ins, to strikes.

So what exactly is gonna
go down today? It’s hard to say. Though Occupy groups in more than 100
cities have all signed on to the May Day strike, each one has a different set
of goals and tactics. Some plans have been disparate and freewheeling, and some
much more coordinated.

As in the fall, the two
most dramatic focal points will likely be New
York City and the Bay Area. In New York, plans are nothing if not
ambitious. Occupiers have scheduled dozens
of simultaneous picket lines
in Manhattan
and Brooklyn, many led by local unions like
the Teamsters and the UAW. Activists also plan to occupy Manhattan’s Bryant
Park throughout the day, and hold working groups, assemblies, and rallies
throughout the city–some legally permitted, some not. Aptly named teach-ins
like “How to Keep Your Cool and Occupy: Understanding Aggression” will also
take place. Amid so many diverse actions, the eyes of a lot of media outlets and
police will be on a march from Brooklyn to Union Square, and
then on to Wall Street beginning at 10:30 ET.

Likewise, activists in the
Bay Area have quite a lot planned. And unlike the November 2 strike, this time
around, organized labor is playing a big part. Although bridge workers in San Francisco have scrapped their proposal to shut down
the Golden Gate Bridge, they have no plans to return to
work. Having seen negotiations with management fall apart, they plan to shutdown
buses and ferries
in the city as part of a larger strike. Some say blocking
the bridge is altogether off the table, reports Truth Out. Likewise, unions that stopped short of endorsing the
November 2 strike are calling on workers to participate. More than 4,000
members of the California Nurses Association will walk out. SEIU workers plan
to occupy city hall. On the East Bay, longshoremen will shut down the Port of Oakland for the third time in six
months.

In San
Francisco, Occupy events will also include rallies at Delores Park
in the Mission, and beginning nearby, a “Bike
Cavalry” critical mass ride to the Golden
Gate Bridge.
On the East Bay,
rallies are planned throughout Oakland,
culminating in a March
for Dignity and Resistance
, from the Fruitvale BART station in East Oakland
to Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Elsewhere, actions may be
less visible on national media outlets, but no less significant. In Chicago, immigrants plan to play a major
role
, mirroring 2006’s extraordinary Day Without Immigrants, which also
occurred on May Day. In Los Angeles, occupiers
have organized a series of four bike and car caravans to the financial
district from places as far flung as Santa
Monica and South Central. Eventually, they hope to
make downtown inaccessible. Occupy DC organizers are planning a daylong festival with
teach-ins and performances to highlight the history of American labor.

Many of these actions have
happened before, at various times throughout Occupy’s brief history. It’s hard
to know how big tomorrow’s events will be, and yet, as Nathan Schneider of Yes! Magazine argues, there’s a good
chance it’ll be something
entirely new.
Last October, demonstrators in over 900 cities around the
world participated in actions in support of Occupy. But even then, Occupy was
less than a month old, and activists hadn’t had the benefit of months
of training and planning
–or such extensive support from organized labor. What
sets today apart is a level of coordination and planning that Occupy hasn’t
seen before.

If, like us, you’re away
from the coasts and other Occupy hubs but still want to follow the action,
check back at Utne.com for the latest rumors, links, and second-hand
commentary.

Image by Brian
Sims
, licensed under Creative Commons

Sources: Occupy
Wall Street
, Truth
Out
, Decolonize
Oakland
, Chicago Spring,
Occupy May 1st, Occupy DC, Yes!,
Huffington
.

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