May1st Reflections (Part 1)

Across the country hundreds of thousands of working people and students took part in what is arguably the most important movement inside the United States. Even though the protest was much smaller than the previous two years, many layers of the most oppressed in American society came out. In this scene, the LGBTQ community, undocumented workers, the First Nation, Palestine solidarity activists, and anti-war groups found a space where one could really see attempts at connecting the many devastating effects of U.S. Empire and vice verse, the movements across the world and in the Untied States which are trying to shatter American Empire and break the back of capitalism.

In Seattle, March First Solidarity and I went to a small protest at Seattle Central Community College. There about 100 students. The protest signs and chants were telling. “The Workers and Students, United, will Never be Defeated” was one popular chant which burst through when the student contingent saw the 500 strong ILWU march. Workers also put down their tools while the student march zipped through downtown Seattle. It was easy to see how the self activity of one layer of society—the students—was having an effect on another layer, the working class. On one corner a worker was standing by his friends and collecting flyers and leaflets from as many students as we he could. Perhaps he will go home at night and read them, getting a dose of fresh air and new perspectives which the New York Times, CNN, or the Seattle local media fail to give time and time again.

Other popular signs in the protests were demanding recruiters to get off college campuses, others showed student support for workers, while some pointed to the continuing US war on Iraq with signs saying “Iraq for Iraqis.” The diversity of signs are a reminder of how many students see immigrant rights, the anti-war movement, the labor movement, and much more as part of one social process at times.

March First Solidarity, Jomo and I also went to the larger immigrant rights and labor protest which took place at 4pm. There were probably about 5,000 to 10,000 people at the protest in our estimate. In the upcoming days we will post some pictures from this protest. For today I posted up some poster signs from the student really at Seattle CCC.

From what I read one of the key reasons for the smaller size of the protests is due to increased raids by INS. According to one website they have increased by 60% since 2005, not to mention the increased militarization of the border. The crisis in the housing market has also been a critical reason for the smaller size. Many undocumented workers are in housing construction and with the growing collapse of the housing industry, their pocket books, let alone their confidence has probably been hit.

There are other reasons as well, some which organizers (as students and workers) inside the labor and immigrant rights movement have to take up. This week Jomo and I will try to post reflections on May 1st and have some hard conversations on what next if the movement is going to grow. Hopefully folks can post their thoughts and feedbacks in the upcoming week.

Talk to yall soon!


PS Here are some pics...

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