Yesterday, when about 80 countries were celebrating the International Labor Day, in the United States unions and former Occupy protesters had another thing in mind. In the United States, the country where people work the longest schedule, International Labor Day doesn’t exactly apply. Workers and Occupy protesters took advantage of the day to flood the streets and ask for better wages. But, authorities did not take well the demonstrations. So on May Day, protesters and police clashed.
Several cities in U.S. yesterday saw clashes between Occupy protesters, workers and immigrant on one side, and police officers on the other. Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Oakland had their share of marches, demonstrations and protester arrests.
Occupy Wall Street and sister movements have revamped themselves for May Day. They were joined by labor rights and May Day immigrant demonstrators in what initially looked like a peaceful crowd. Occupy May Day protesters tried to raise awareness once again over the initial problems of income inequality, high unemployment, banks and politics.
New York was taken by surprise with several thousands of people showing up for the march. The peaceful march soon got into a clash with police officer, after downtown Manhattan traffic started to move slow. NYPD eventually arrested 30 protesters, but police forces in Oakland had another thing coming.
Oakland is renowned for the violence police forces undertakes to shut down protesters. Gas tears were fired and flash bang grenades were thrown at protesters, all just to disperse literally a bunch of people, compared with New York’s Occupy May Day attendance. Out of the several hundreds of demonstrators, only four people were arrested.
Seattle saw its own share of May Day protests and clashes with police. Protesters used sticks to break windows and ran through the middle of the street causing Mike McGinn, mayor of Seattle, to give police officers the green light to confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. Local reports talked about “rocks flying, hammers and tire irons being used to damage property”, “sound bombs”, “firecrackers” and even a “small fire”.
As one organizer with the Occupy May Day protests said, yesterday’s clashes were “the end of hibernation”. With the weather on protesters’ side it’s likely that Occupy Wall Street movements will mushroom through the U.S. once again.