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Reclaim MayDay San Francisco

by Mahtin 5:24pm Wed May 3 '00

Autonomous actions in the downtown, a picnic and celebration, and a festive parade past corporate criminals!

MayDay 2000 in San Francisco, California, USA was the first time in recent memory in which May 1st was celebrated locally on a weekday. The day included direct actions, a celebration, and a march, all in the downtown area of San Francisco. MayDay commemorates the 1886 General Strike, and the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, which were part of a nationwide workers' movement which fought for the eight-hour workday. Many countries still celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1st. Since the Middle Ages, MayDay has been celebrated as a fertility holiday in cultures all over the world. In recent decades, MayDay has largely been forgotten in the United States, and Labor Day has been officially celebrated in September. Reclaim MayDay is a 3 year-old coalition of pagans, artists, anarchists, union members, and others in the Bay Area who come together each year to celebrate MayDay in a way that honors all of their traditions.

May 1st, 2000 began with autonomous morning actions in downtown San Francisco. There were at least two roving dance parties. One group of approximately 30 people was arrested as it entered a Levi’s store. Several people were able to get out of the store in time to observe the arrests and told people at the celebration about the incident. Another group danced at a Gap store. This party also spread to architectural design firm Kaplan, McLoughlin, and Diaz, a firm that designs prisons. Four gallons of red paint symbolizing the spilled blood of prisoners was dumped inside, and one person was beaten as he was arrested. A truck was spotted downtown with alternating signs reading: “Caution: Income Gap Ahead," "The Spectre of Capitialism is Haunting America," and "Capitalism Stops at Nothing.”

As many as 1500 people attended the 3-hour festival, which took place in the grassy area just north of downtown San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza. Many festively-dressed people danced around a Maypole in a ceremony initiated by the Reclaiming Collective. Food Not Bombs San Francisco and East Bay teamed up to provide a scrumptious free meal. On the main stage, performers included poet Jack Hirschman, singers Faith Petric and Casey Niell, Harmonic Intervention, Art & Revolution, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Bob Owens from Local 510 spoke about the links being made between labor unions, artists, anarchists, environmental, and other activists.

About 500 people left the park to march through downtown in what some have called a street theatre-filled "corporate tour of shame." Although the parade organizers had not obtained a permit for the march, hundreds of uniformed members of the San Francisco Police Department accompanied the parade. Without being asked, the police volunteered their services to keep the sidewalks clear for shoppers. Commanding police officers several times threatened to arrest the entire march, but no arrests were made. The Infernal Noise Brigade, also known as the Anarchist Marching Band that was seen in Seattle’s WTO protests last year, provided a colorful musical addition to the front of the parade. Stops along the route included a dance by the Emma Said Dance Project at Victoria's Secret; punk band Shotwell performing outside of the Citibank offices; dancing and chalking outside of the Pacific Stock Exchange; Fidelity Investments, where a banner reading “Fidelity Invests in Occidental Oil’s Repression of the U’Wa” was hung from the neighboring Wells Fargo Bank; and everyone's favorite, the Gap. A puppet symbolizing a boss was burned in the street as the parade left the Gap store. Hundreds of people continued to walk, chanting and drumming, past Banana Republic, and into Union Square, where the demonstration ended. Organizers feel very positive as they look ahead to future MayDay celebrations.

Other events which took place in the San Francisco Bay Area on that day included labor programming on KPFA, the local Pacifica-affiliate radio station; a video showing by the Labor Video Project; and a rave organized by local activist dj's.

To contact Reclaim MayDay, please email sfmayday2000@yahoo.com or call (415) 339-7801.


From:  http://www.infoshop.org

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