May 1: As Close to a General Strike as We’ll See in Our Lifetimes

Reviving a dormant tradition of the American labor movement, immigrant rights organizations are planning what reasonably can be called a General Strike for May 1st.  That’s right, the same May 1st that marks the high point of the 19th century struggle for the eight-hour day.  The same May 1st that once marked the rememberence of Haymarket anarchists executed by the State of Illinois in 1889.  I won’t dwell on the history, except to say that the history is suddenly perceived as more relevant to our present than it was even a year ago.

Instead, I point you to the Los Angeles IndyMedia site.  A quick review suggests that news of a split within the movement (between those advocating a boycott of work and those worried about backlash) seems to be oversold.  This is going to be a very, very big day of protest in LA, Chicago, and other cities.

Tellingly, the Chicago Police are saying that they will NOT be out in riot gear.  Unlike the paramilitary style that greets antiwar protesters, immigrant rights protests will be greeted as, dare I say it–citizens!  Significantly, the Chicago parade route will begin at Union Park (close to the Ashland Ave. cluster of union halls) and pass through Haymarket Square on its way to Grant Park.  The Chicago Federation of Labor will sponsor a rally at 4:30 PM on Monday at the Haymarket Monument.

If you are in Chicago: go, Go, GO! Take pictures, record sound and video. Talk to people. Gather the history of this important event.

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