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NYC May Day Celebrated at Union Square

By staff |
May 2, 2017
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Hundreds rallied at Union Square. (FightBack! News/Greg Butterfield)

New York, NY - Several hundred gathered at Union Square on May 1 to celebrate International Workers Day. The event was one of several organized for the day and was put together by groups that are a part of the International League of People’s Struggles – North East.

The event was called “Shut it down: Strike to defend migrants, refugees and all workers” and started at noon at the south end of the park. The program consisted of speeches and cultural performers.

Speakers and performers stood in front of a large banner that declared “Strike!” in several different languages, as unions and worker centers, such as the Laundry Workers Center and B&H Photo workers, called for a one-day general strike.

Joe Catron, an organizer with Samidoun the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, read a statement of solidarity on behalf of the 1000 plus Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike.

Michela Martinazzi, an organizer with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, spoke on political repression, stating, “We scored a victory in keeping Rasmea Odeh out of jail. It’s the people who must protect their own. From those arrested at Occupy, to J20 and Jacksonville, when the state attacks our own, we have to stand up to them. Together we fight and united we win!”

There were also speakers from different countries that highlighted how those countries were experiencing and fighting back against the brunt of U.S. imperialism and intervention, such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Korea.

At 2:30 p.m. the speeches stopped for one hour as different groups set up in different parts of the park for teach-ins on respective issues in our movement. The main program began again at 3:30 p.m.

Susan Sarandon, an actress and an outspoken progressive voice in Hollywood, made an unexpected appearance and gave a speech. She stated, “I’m a born and bred New Yorker and the reason I came here is because of the spirit and fuck you attitude,” she continued as the crowd cheered, “There have been infringements on people’s lives beyond the past eight years and just now people are noticing. It’s now more important than ever that we stand together and we demand that New York is a sanctuary city.”

Cultural performances included Palestinian Dabke Dancers, singers, spoken word and short skits. Each performance highlighted a particular culture or showcased parts of the movement.

Throughout the day, Alt-Right and Trump supporters attempted to tear down the event, but they were thwarted by security, comprised of event organizers. The NYPD arrested organizers and those trying to defend themselves.

The march began at approximately 5:30 p.m. even though there were a couple of speakers left on the program. The decision was made when security noticed that armed fascist forces had infiltrated the park and surrounded the area. As the march began, the NYPD arrested people on the front banner who took the streets.

Regardless of the heavy police and right-wing repression, the rest of the organizers took the lead and continued marching. Approximately 5000 people marched for three hours downtown chanting, singing and standing up for justice!