May Day 2012: Why We Should Take to the Streets

Tomorrow, May 1st, is International Workers Day and may very well be one of the largest days of mass action and protest we’ve seen in the North America in some time.  Also known as May Day, the day has a long and rich history of working people courageously fighting for dignity and justice.

May 1st is the original “Labor Day” in the US.  On May 1, 1886, 100,000 workers went on strike in Chicago demanding an eight-hour work day.  They were met with violent repression from the police who killed four and injured many more.  A massive rally against police brutality was organized in the coming days at Haymarket Square where violence escalated.  Martial law was declared in Chicago, and police arrested hundreds of activists.  The “Chicago Eight” were arrested and convicted solely because of their political beliefs.  Seven were sentenced to death, and four were eventually hanged.  Hanged for being freedom-fighters.  Sound familiar?

In more recent years, May Day has become a mass day of action for immigrant workers rights here in the United States as well.  In 2006, literally millions of immigrants and allies took to the streets in the midst of draconian anti-immigrant legislation working its way through the halls of Congress in the first “Day Without Immigrants.”

90 percent of truckers did not show up for work at the Port of Los Angeles, 27 percent of students did not show up for school. In the Central and Imperial Valleys, farm tools lay idle in the biggest agricultural work stoppage in California’s history. Corporations like Perdue, Cargill, and Swift preemptively gave workers the day off in an effort to save face and minimize production losses. In New York, whole neighborhoods closed as Korean and Latino business shuttered their windows. (see:

Tomorrow in NYC and elsewhere, the Occupy movement(s) will be joining with the labor movement and the immigrant justice movement in a united front of students, workers, immigrants, and people of conscience from all walks of life to demand justice.  From a free “people’s university” and tenants’ general assembly to group meditation, choir convergences, and performances by Das Racist and Tom Morello, there will be something for everyone tomorrow.  I’m assuming other cities’ actions are similarly full of creative and engaging ways to plug in.  Click here to find an action in your area.

I’ve written previously about the importance of Sikhs standing up both for economic justice and immigrant rights.  These intersecting issues, which will converge in a powerful display of people’s power tomorrow, are critical for our community today in the United States and beyond.  These are our issues, and I hope we bring our presence and our voices to these historic actions taking place in hundreds of cities around the world tomorrow.

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5 Responses to “May Day 2012: Why We Should Take to the Streets”

  1. Kallol Roy says:

    My solidarity to your struggles from India. Long live the international solidarity of workers! Wish you very happy May Day celebrations :)

  2. pnrk says:

    can't have human rights without animal rights:

    That old familiar expression of love
    So and so is my jaan, my very life
    Every jaanver's jaan for The One Above
    Is as precious to Him as one's own life
    The love you have for the one who's your jaan
    Extend to all: animals are not food
    Anyone having any sense of maan
    Would know that only sheer brutes, very crude
    Humans would for jaanvers not have pyar
    Sustaining one's body at another's
    Expense: Whaheguru keep such demons far
    Away from me: protect jaanver's mothers
    Animal flesh, fish and eaters of eggs
    Can't know love with either their hearts or legs

    Happy Mayday/m'aidez!


  3. Education makes her able to stand on her feet and make a right decision for her self. One she has made a decision not to bear any kind of pain and fight against her. I can surely say that her dark period is end.