May Day 2000:
We Demand A Better World
Revolutionary Worker #1054, May 14, 2000
This system, with its arrogance and criminal behavior, has stirred fresh resistance within the United States. On this May First, 2000, different political currents and movements took to the streets and united, in different ways, across the U.S.--celebrating the spirit of May First, speaking out about deep grievances of the oppressed and exposing the capitalist system.
Over 1,000 people marched, rallied and demonstrated in a day-long series of actions in Chicago's downtown--where International Workers Day was born over 100 years ago. Young revolutionaries swirling huge red flags marched with contingents of proletarian day laborers, janitors and residents of the city's endangered housing projects. They joined with other forces who came eager to call out the greed and destructiveness of the capitalist/imperialist system--among them many from the new generation of students and activists who stepped forward so strongly during the confrontations of Seattle and DC.
In New York City, over 4,000 people marched from Union Square to City Hall--demanding an end to the abuse and exploitation of undocumented workers. These marchers were overwhelmingly immigrant workers--who risked much to take the streets in the face of Giuliani's riot cops.
Lively marches and events were held in at least a dozen cities and towns across the U.S.--in solidarity with the working people of the world. And in many of these actions the May First slogans of the RCP were lifted high on banners: "We Are Human Beings, We Demand a Better World, We Will Not Accept Slavery in Any Form."
The Revolutionary Worker newspaper was in the house--passing hand to hand, and showing up on the walls of housing projects and the targeted corporate zones.
The demand to stop the execution of revolutionary prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was prominent everywhere on May First. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a coalition of youth activists mobilized students for a May First "Youth/Student Action Day." Many thousands of stickers and buttons for revolutionary prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal were distributed and displayed in over a dozen Bay Area high schools and at the University of California at Berkeley.
Red May First"One sister from Watts was shy but very determined when she said flat out, `We got to make a new world cuz we do need a new world.' There are times when the power of the words `a better world's in birth' from the Internationale hits you full on the head. And there are times you can actually see the hope of the future, the beginning of this birth process unfolding in front of your face. Mao talked about how a new generation of revolutionary youth stepping out on their own is a sign of the vitality of any revolutionary movement and absolutely necessary for its success. This year, the May Day program in Los Angeles was one of those times when all of this came together. And it was beautiful--a holiday celebrating an amazing vision of the future and the struggle to get there--organized and presented by a new generation of revolutionary leaders."
RW reporter Michael Slate
writing about the May First event
hosted by the RCYB at L.A.'s Libros RevoluciónSisters and Brothers, who are we?
We're the last class in history!
Take the Earth and give it a spin,
We got nothing to lose and a world to win!
So lift your gat and sound their doom
Shk, Shk, Clack, Clack,
<_>Boom Boom Boom!
Revolutionary chorus from L.A.
Across the U.S., there was a series of revolutionary May Day events organized by the RCP in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Revolution bookstores were packed for speeches and performances.
People read poems and statements honoring the life of Damián García, a much-loved member of the Revolutionary Communist Party who was assassinated by police agents 20 years ago while building for May Day 1980. Youth who never knew Damián dedicated themselves to live like him--dedicated to the revolution with all their hearts.
Joe Veale, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Branch of the RCP, said in his May Day speech: "As many of you know, the RCP,USA has launched a great project. We plan to produce a new Programme of our Party, and we want to involve the revolutionary masses in helping to produce it. A Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Programme is a battle plan for destroying the old and creating the new. We are forging a kind of road map for how to win the revolution and making clear what winning in the fullest sense really means. The RCYB will be speaking more about this soon. But all those who want to get down with the Party and the RCYB and take part in this project should come forward and join in this exciting work."
It was particularly exciting this year that Maoists around the world were distributing a new statement from the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement--which had been specially released on May First itself. (see the statement published in this issue of the RW).
These revolutionary May Day events featured shout-outs and solidarity with the people's wars of Nepal and Peru, waged by parties participating in the RIM. In Chicago, one woman activist spoke movingly of observing first hand the revolutionary struggle in the Philippines against U.S. imperialism.
Those With Nothing to Lose"The oppressed people of the world have different cultures and languages. Our complexions and features are beautifully diverse. But what we share is deep. We share a common oppressor: the worldwide capitalist/imperialist system. And we share a burning desire to end this hell-on-earth."
May First 2000 issue of
the Revolutionary Worker"We're here because of the injustices that they give us. They abuse us. We want to be legal in the United States. We want better pay, better conditions, papers, medical papers, too--everything!--because they don't treat us like human beings. We work long hours and we have no kind of benefits. It's horrible. Many people don't even get minimum wage. How can they support their family? How can they pay rent and support their children? They don't have money to eat. I know a few people who don't get paid--the boss, they just don't pay them. And since they're illegal in this country they are afraid of speaking up for themselves to get paid. This is the suffering that we're going through."
Two Mexican women speaking
to the RW in New York"This banner was made with anger, painted in blood. We're here to fight together.'
A Mexican teenager in New York,
whose banner demands amnesty
for undocumented immigrants
New York--RW reporter Debbie Lang described what it was like when the May Day marched south from Union Square toward City Hall--demanding amnesty for undocumented workers.
"The reception was incredible everywhere--but especially in the streets of Chinatown, where so many are undocumented workers themselves. We passed immigrants who were selling food or goods on the side of the street, and they threw fists in the air, joined in the chants and called out the country they were from. In the posh Soho district, I watched upper class people on the streets get this look of surprise as the marchers came by--these are the ones they see every day but never notice. And then, again and again, I saw that look change to real sympathy and even delight.
"`Aquí estamos y no nos vamos!' (Here we are! We aren't leaving!) and `íPa'rriba, pa'bajo, la Migra pal'carajo! (Up, down, to hell with the Migra!)" echoed as we marched through the streets. Most of the marchers were young and almost everybody brought their kids along. Many of these marchers were themselves undocumented--organized in large contingents from Mexico, Central and South America, with groups from South Asia and the Caribbean. They had been called out by different groups, including the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants, Asociación Tepayac, and the Centro de Trabajadores Latinos.
"A member of the Mexican-American Workers Association told me: `We regret that we fled our country for economic, political or social reasons. We would not be here if we had a more stable situation back in our countries. We are forced to come to the United States but we don't come here to be slaves or exploited. We come here to try to live in dignity and respect for ourselves and our families. And we are here sending a message to the unions, to the politicians, to tell them that we are an organized force."'
There was solidarity in New York's march--as the immigrant proletarians were joined by many other people who wanted to take a stand against oppression and capitalism. The burning political issues of the day were represented: People manifested for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Activists in the fight against police murder and brutality were there. A large contingent of youth brought with them the spirit of the protests against the World Bank and IMF. Here and there were supporters from other trade union groups in the city, reflecting a country-wide trend among social democratic elements within U.S. trade unions of hooking up with May First events.
Before the march began, dozens of cops in riot gear stormed into the crowd and arrested 15 youth--for wearing masks. Mexican immigrants yelled "Diallo!" and "Policía Asesino!" then counted loudly to 41--recalling the 41 shots fired at African immigrant Amadou Diallo by New York's killer cops.
RW reporter Virus X reports that in Chicago dozens of day laborers and janitors joined in the May Day events, and with them were fighters from Chicago's endangered housing projects and families who have lost loved ones to police frame-ups and murder. These proletarian people brought with them the edge of people who have directly faced the system's cold heart.
One day laborer told an early morning crowd protesting outside the Chicago Board of Trade: "It's time we get together as humans as opposed to different individuals. We're all fighting for the same thing. You talk about slavery--being African American, I have to deal with it all the time. It's nothing new about slave wages, nothing's changed. The corporate structure is corporate pimping day labor as far as I'm concerned. They're taking complete advantage of the situation."
Again and again, people spoke about the hard conditions of their lives: Working long hours for minimum wage, having overtime stolen through accounting tricks, getting paid between 30 and 40 bucks a day, showing up at 3 a.m. to sign up for a job assignment that starts in eight hours or may not come at all, going back to the homeless shelter empty-handed far, far too often. Slavery was a word often used, and not rhetorically.
There have recently been strikes by janitors in downtown Chicago and the surrounding new corporate suburbs.
"Temp services just beating you down," said one laborer, "They're making the money and you're making the peanuts." Sholanda described how she has temped at Libby's, Clorox and Avon. She's worked as a secretary, stripped floors and laid roof tiles. But Sholanda says discrimination keeps her from having a steady job--she has spent time in prison, and like millions of people, she faces a punishment that doesn't end when you walk out of the prison.
The proletarians marching in Chicago spoke from the heart about the need for struggle and change. For most this was their first May Day, even their first demonstration. "We should have done this a long time ago," commented Sholanda. One brother said: "I could do something wrong, I might as well do something right. I think it's pretty good I ain't out here by myself, ain't doing it alone."
In several other cities there were marches demanding amnesty for immigrant workers.
In Dallas, over a thousand proletarians and supporters marched on April 30 to demand amnesty for undocumented workers and an end to the intolerable exploitation immigrant workers face--part of the rallies called by the National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants. Their expressed goal was to "reestablish May First as International Workers Day in the United States." People came from different parts of the state. Sponsoring organizations included Association for Residency and Citizenship of America, American Friends Service Committee, Harris County AFL-CIO and Dallas AFL-CIO, and groups of immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
On May First in the Los Angeles Koreatown, 200 people targeted a restaurant that had called in the FBI and INS to attack workers and organizers when they demanded to be paid for overtime.
In Seattle, 300 people marched on the local INS building. About half of the people were proletarians from Mexico and Central America--and joining them were youth from the anti-globalization protests, RCP supporters, Filipino anti-imperialists, and radical musicians. A Mexicano told the RW he had been fired for organizing a union among apple pickers and added: "We want justice and we want respect." Giant puppets and red flags loomed above the crowd. A Latina woman led the way, chanting, "Arriba los inmigrantes! Los inmigrantes luchamos!"
Banners read, "Revolución es la esperanza de los desesperados" and "Overthrow Imperialism, Globalize Revolution." Marchers also went to support 70 artists facing eviction from the downtown Washington Shoe Building.
In downtown Portland, hundreds of people marched to demand amnesty for undocumented workers, an end to clear-cutting in national forests, and affordable housing. They were attacked by police, who declared a "state of emergency" and shot into the crowd with beanbags from shotguns. Sixteen marchers were arrested.
Target: Capitalism"It's a good time to be young. It's a good time to be alive!"
Seattle activist just back
from anti-IMF actions in DC"I came to throw down for the oppressed across the world."
Revolutionary Communist Youth
Brigade member, Chicago
On May First, class conscious proletarians raise their heads and look to the global nature of their fight for liberation. On this May First 2000, that sentiment was in the forefront again. Many new forces have been energized by the intense recent struggles against the World Trade Organization, World Bank and IMF and were eager to hook up with the May Day spirit of exposing and confronting global capitalism. In city after city, May Day actions targeted various headquarters of capitalist finance and exploitation. People spoke out repeatedly against the hateful bourgeois climate of greed, stock mania, rabid selfishness and callous indifference.
In Chicago, the May Day activities started at the Board of Trade, and then grew as marchers converged on the hated, conservative Chicago Tribune, and then moved on to target government offices. A spirited revolutionary contingent brought together activists from the League of Filipino Students and the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.
A sign in the early morning financial district read, "Class war, play to win." A student told the RW: "The Board of Trade represents everything that's wrong with corporate America. Here this is where they do all their deals, where they have the lives of the people of the third world in their hands. To them the people are just pawns, just puppets."
One sister laid down in the entrance and dared people, "Walk over me. You walk over homeless people every fucking day." The canyons of the Chicago financial district echoed with the chants: "Human needs not corporate greed!" "May Day, May Day, we work hard, why don't they?" "Work, buy, consume, die" and "Globalize this."
A hilarious, noisy rebel action went down in L.A.'s legendary Rodeo Drive shopping district in super-ritzy Beverly Hills. On May Day over 100 took to the streets to mock and expose. A Grim Reaper on roller blades had a sign on his back: "Corporate Greed." Old TVs, computers and microwaves were thrown into the street. There were effigies of two Bills (Clinton and Gates) with blood dripping from their mouths. A huge banner announced, "Capitalism Stole My Life!" For over two hours, the streets and intersections were taken over by the May Day crowd, including anarchist youth, Food Not Bombs, Refuse & Resist! and the Direct Action Network. Not surprisingly, a swarm of cops soon showed up--on foot, bikes, motorcycles, even in huge SUVs.
In Boston, 300 demonstrators--college and high school students--marched and ran to drums through the downtown financial district. They headed for the Boston Stock Exchange, then marchers pushed through police to occupy the entrance to Fidelity Mutual Investment (which profits from oil drilling on the land of South America's U'wa people.) Posters from the RW's May Day issue appeared on corporate walls.
Meanwhile in downtown San Francisco over 1,500 gathered for a May Day festival which combined anti-capitalist protest with festive celebration. Roving dance parties targeted the Gap and Levi's for their sweatshop policies; 30 dancing people were arrested for entering a Levi's. Dancers also disrupted the architectural firm Kaplan, McLoughlin, and Diaz which is notorious for designing prisons. Four gallons of red paint were dumped inside.
Meanwhile about 500 people marched through San Francisco's downtown in a "corporate tour of shame." There were performances and guerrilla theater at Victoria's Secret; Citibank offices, the Pacific Stock Exchange; Fidelity Investments, Wells Fargo Bank; and everyone's favorite, the Gap.
There were significant actions for Mumia Abu-Jamal in the Bay Area including a day of action in which thousands of college and high school students wore stickers for Mumia, a rally at the Federal Building called by the 3rd Eye Movement, and an evening of powerful performances where high school students packed the Black Dot in East Oakland.
In Atlanta a May First action for Mumia was held in the West End neighborhood including the RCYB and students from several local colleges.
In Washington State's capital, Olympia, over 500 youth took over the downtown for a May Day street party against global capitalism--where activities included tearing up the U.S. flag and smashing TV sets, couches and church pews. In Minneapolis there were clashes and two dozen arrests as a rowdy march of 400 was surrounded by riot cops.
At New York City's Revolution Books May Day event, Phil Farnum said, on behalf of the Revolutionary Communist Party, New York Branch: "As we build and lead the resistance of the people to the attacks of today, we are building and preparing for the day when the system is weak enough, and the people are strong enough, to move from resistance to revolution. The great revolutionary leader, Mao Tsetung, said that the road is tortuous, full of twists and turns, but the future is bright. Our Chairman says, `We have every reason to celebrate and welcome the future to come. This will be the era in which a radically new world will be brought into being...DOWN WITH THE OLD WORLD--A BETTER WORLD IS IN BIRTH!'"
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)