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NYC Parks Department tries to shut down May Day

By staff |
April 26, 2018
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 Last year's May Day rally at the Southside of Union Square.
Last year's May Day rally at the Southside of Union Square. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

New York, NY - On April 26, at 1 p.m., people gathered outside the New York City's Parks and Recreation Department (NYCPRD) building to hold a press conference and protest the NYCPRD's decision to move the annual International Workers Day protest to the North End of Union Square Park.

May Day has been held at South Side (off 14th Street) of Union Square Park for the past century. The decision to grant the permit for the park three blocks north of the historic location is a blatant move to throw off May Day protesters who plan to attend the rally.

Organizers for May Day at Union Square submitted a permit over three months ago, and the NYCPRD, along with NYPD, have been giving the organizers the runaround. Finally, after hemming and hawing, they granted a permit a few days ago. They tried to excuse their decision by saying that construction would get in the way of the rally. Organizers went to visit the location, and it shows no signs of construction.

Sara Flounders, with the International Action Center, said, “This denial is a clear violation of the constitutional right to assemble in public places. In the age of Trump, such arbitrary abuse of bureaucratic authority should be challenged. It is part of the climate of raids, round-ups and growing police repression and militarization."

Commonly, it is known that the south side of the park has more traffic and is more accessible by the different train lines. Also, holding a rally at the north side of the park would get in the way of street vendors who normally gather there during the week.

The attendees of the press conference were sure to let those passing by know what the NYCPRD was attempting to do. Before the conference started, chants rang through the street of, "May Day, where? South Union Square!"

Several spoke representing different organizations that are putting May Day together, from Anakbayan New York to Labor Against Racist Terror.

Michela Martinazzi spoke on behalf of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression NY. In her statement she said, "The parks department's attempt to shut down May Day is an act of political repression. But, we won't let them shut down May Day, because it's a celebration of the struggles we've all waged in this past year. So we will be there celebrating, militantly rallying and ready to march."

May Day Union Square has over 60 organizations signed on for the day. If you're interested in attending, here's the Facebook event: