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International Workers Day marked in Chicago

By staff |
May 2, 2018
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Raymond "Mong" Palatino, representing the Phillipine "Stop the Killing" Campaign
Raymond "Mong" Palatino, representing the Phillipine "Stop the Killing" Campaign and Kilusang Mayo Uno/ May 1st Movement (Photo by Frank James Johnson)

Chicago. IL - The meeting room at the United Electrical workers building in Chicago rang with song, as 60 working people of all nationalities and backgrounds - Black, Chicano, Mexicano, Honduran, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Asian, and white - gathered together to celebrate International Workers Day. Sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the crowd was made up of fighters from the many battle lines in the class struggle and the national liberation movements.

Frank Chapman of FRSO told the story of how May Day began in Chicago in 1886, remembering the martyrs and the first general strike in the world fighting for the eight-hour day. “Today, the eight-hour day is a luxury,” he said, as he described the all-out assault by the capitalists on workers and oppressed people in the U.S. Just as in 1886, the movement today faces the brutal Chicago Police Department. Describing the struggle he has helped lead for community control of the police, Chapman remarked, “Here in Chicago, we are playing a vanguard role in the movement nationally to win democratic reforms and end police occupation of the Black and Latino communities.”

A special guest of the event was Raymond “Mong” Palatino, a youth activist and former congressman from the Philippines, who was speaking on behalf of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the May First Movement of industrial workers of the Philippines. He condemned the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for the 28-hour abduction and torture of Jerome Succor Aba, a Muslim or Moro activist from the Philippines who was to have been part of a delegation with Palatino. Their speaking tour, called “Stop the Killings,” exposed the murders of upwards of 20,000 people in the past two years by the U.S.-backed Duterte government in Manila. He also announced that the workers in the Philippines had united all the unions there to march together on May Day.

No gathering to celebrate the class struggle here would be complete without the red shirted Chicago Teachers Union. Maria Moreno, Financial Secretary of CTU Local 1 spoke about their history of struggle, and the wave of teachers strikes across the country.

Also at the gathering were a number of workers, including warehouse workers from Amazon and UPS, as well as UPS drivers.

Byron Sigcho of the Pilsen Alliance, a community organization in the Chicano and Mexicano immigrant community near downtown Chicago, agitated the crowd to fight racist attacks on Blacks and Latinos; to demand rent control for low-income workers; and to stand up to the police and support the elected, civilian police accountability council put forward by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “We must combat racism with socialism!”

Chicago Alliance and FRSO member, Yahama Tunson, performed a poem inspired by FRSO’s newspaper, Fight Back!. And finally, Honduran revolutionary singer, Karla Lara, helped lead the singing of the International, the hymn of the working class sung all over the world and in every language on this day. The room sang along in English, Spanish and Filipino.