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New York City marches on May Day

By Michela Martinazzi |
May 2, 2018
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Protesters end the march at Foley Square Federal Plaza. (FightBack!Michela Martinazzi)

New York, NY – Several hundred people gathered in Union Square Park to rally and march in celebration of International Workers Day, May 1. The event was pulled together by over 60 organizations, under the leadership of the organizations in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

The celebration began on the north side of Union Square Park, which was a change from the last ten decades when May Day was celebrated on the south side. This move was an initial deterrent by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department to stop May Day. However, the organizers were ready to rally regardless of attempts of political repression.

Forces began gathering at noon and were greeted by songs of liberation and revolution. The first round of emcees stood on the bed of pick-up truck with a banner emblazoned, “Fight together! Strike to win! Migrants and workers run the world!”

The series of speeches were militant and kept the crowd going. In between speeches, there were chants that ranged from, “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!” to “We fight together! We strike to win! New York we know you’re listening!”

Jessica Schwartz, an organizer from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression-NY, gave a speech that reviewed the history political repression and May Day. Part of her speech was announcing the new CSFR-NY campaign, which is targeting the sector of the NYPD called the Strategic Response Group (SRG). The SRG is a highly-militarized response unit that was created post 9/11 to respond to terrorism. However, in the last years it’s been used to highly police and repress protests. Schwartz ended her speech by saying, “That is why, to honor the original martyrs of May Day, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression wants everyone here to organize in their communities when they’re under attack, whether it’s anti-gentrification, immigrant rights, workers’ rights, or any other issue. The Committee to Stop FBI Repression asks that you join us in our demand to have the NYPD and Security Response Group stop targeting and arresting activists.”

One of the next speakers was Nadz Martinez, representing Bayan USA North East, who gave a rousing and passionate overview of how the U.S. has puppets throughout the world. Martinez focused on the Duterte’s fascist regime in the Philippines and how he’s carrying out three wars against the people. They touched upon how these various struggles are fighting back and the importance of standing in solidarity with them. They ended their speech with a chant, “When workers’ rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!”

The march began at 5 p.m. and headed to Foley Square, the Federal Plaza in New York. While the marchers kept their spirits up, the NYPD tried several times to stop, deter and break up the march. The main occurrence was when they attempted to break up the front of the march near the corner of Washington Square Park - where Mayor De Blasio was holding his event. However, the organizers out-maneuvered the cops and were able to get their march back together and end in Foley Square!

The day ended with small speak-outs, chants and a recommitment to the movement.

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