Friday, May 1, 2015

Music Video - Shakira - La La La

Video Report - Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen kill civilians, Houthis rally against Riyadh

Video - May Day Protesters March in Manhattan

Video Report - #Turkey - May Day protests for better working conditions turns violent

Saudi Arabia wooed Pakistanis through its clergy

Pakistan's refusal to join Saudi Arabia led forces of some Gulf and Muslim friendly countries in their air strikes on Iran supported Yemeni Shia rebels since March 23, 2015 was not received well by the Saudi monarchy and some Gulf countries, particularly UAE. Although Pakistan reiterated its commitment to safeguard territorial integrity, Kingdom's monarchy did not expect cold shouldered response from Pakistan and successfully used its clergy of highest order to garner much needed moral support of Pakistanis and their radical Sunni political parties, rather than depending on Nawaz Sharif government.
Pakistan perceived Saudi Arabia's call to send its naval ships, aircraft and army to the Kingdom to fight against Yemini rebels as an attempt to make it as a party in further dividing of Muslim world on sectarian basis. In addition, volatile situation in Baluchistan bordering Iran, Pakistani forces' ongoing joint military offensive terrorist organisations in around Waziristan Agency since June 2014 under operation 'Zarb-e-Azb, bordering Afghanistan: and further alienation of Pakistan's over 20 per cent Pakistani Shia's over Saudi air strikes against Yemini Shias were major factors, which prevented Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept Saudi's appeal out rightly. Since Pakistan has strong religious bonds as well as durable economic and military relations with Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif in a master stroke put the onus on country's Parliament to decide on Saudi's appeal for military assistance. As expected, Pakistani Parliament debated the issue in a three day joint session and rejected (April 10, 2015) Saudi call to join forces against Yemen. However, Pakistani Parliament reiterated Nawaz Sharif's commitment to protect Kingdom's territorial integrity.
Pakistan's blatant refusal to Saudi Arabia's call disappointed the Kingdom's brand-new monarchy, its coterie and Gulf States. UAE was, however, more vocal in criticizing Pakistan over its refusal to accept Saudi call. UAE's Minister of State, Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargesh univocally labeled (Dubai, April 11, 2015) Pakistani Parliament's resolution on Saudi call as 'vague, contradictory, dangerous and unexpected'.
Dr. Gargesh also threatened that Pakistan will have to pay for its ambiguous stand on Yemen and deplored it for siding with Iran on the issue and giving importance to Turkey rather than giving a positive call to Saudi appeal in the time of 'real crisis'.
Saudi Arabia, sensing the diplomatic gravity of threat to Pakistan by UAE, washed its hands from the threatening call of UAE and did not endorse it. At the same time, Saudi Arabia realised that Pakistan Parliament's decision not to endorse Saudi call for military help could also be taken as a decision of Pakistani people also, which may erode Pakistanis' loyal sentiments towards the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, therefore, in a diplomatic coup, decided to counter Nawaaz Sharif's move in his own country through a religious mode by arousing Pakistani radicals' religious sentiments in favor of Saudi Arabia and turning Pakistanis' support in its favor.
Within two days of Pakistani Parliament's denial to Saudi Arabia appeal for military assistance, Kingdom sent its top two religious leaders then followed by another one to Pakistan in a short span of less than fortnight, with the sole aim of ensuring Pakistani Sunni dominated radical clergy's support to the Kingdom on Yemeni issue. Three Saudi religious top notches who visited Pakistan on their aforesaid mission, included Saudi Minister for Religious Affairs, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz, along with Saudi Chief Advisor for Religious Affairs Dr. Abul Aziz, (April12 to April 17, 2015) and shortly after them Imam-e-Kaaba, Dr. Khalid Al Ghamidi arrived in Lahore (April 24, 2015) on a week long visit.
Saudi religious leadership during its visit to Pakistan primarily hobnobbed with Pakistani Sunni radicals, also held conferences and rallies on the issue of protection of Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina allegedly from Iran, convincingly attempted to garner support through Pakistani electronic media, addressed religious congregations in various places in Pakistan and succeeded in gathering Pakistanis support through Pakistani Sunni radical parties' leadership like Hafeez Saeed of Jamaat-ul-Dawa, Prof Sajid Mir of Jamiat Ahle Hadith, Siraj ul-Haq Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Fazal-ur-Haq Rehman of Jamiat-ulema-e-Islam.
During their visit to Pakistan, Saudi Minister for Religious Affairs, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz, and Saudi Chief Advisor for Religious Affairs Dr. Abul Aziz, in league with grand master of terrorism and Chief of Jamaat-ul-Dawa (JuD), Hafeez Saeed held well attended meetings in Islamabad naming it 'conference for the protection of Two Holy Mosques', and Hafeez Saeed too obliged the visiting religious Saudi dignitaries by holding big rallies in their support at several places in Pakistan including in Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Lahore. Sheikh Saleh also met Nawaz Sharif and handed him over Saudi King's letter apparently clarifying Saudi position on crisis in Yemen and seeking support from Pakistan. While in Pakistan, Sheikh Saleh claimed that Saudi Arabia had support of Pakistani people on Yemeni issue, Dr. Abdul Aziz described the Pakistani offer to mediate in Yemini crisis at a 'joke'.
Unlike his counterparts, the Imam-e-Kaaba Dr. Khalid Al Ghamidi commenced his weeklong visit to Pakistan from Lahore and addressed well attended religious and Friday congregations in some prominent mosques of Lahore, in league with leaders of Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Jamaat-e-Islami and called for unity amongst Muslims to protect the Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia.
After staying in Lahore for three days, Imam also visited Islamabad and called on President of Pakistan and Speaker of the National Assembly and Pakistan's Minister for Religious Affairs, who reiterated Pakistan standing support to Saudi Arabia for safeguarding its territorial integrity. Saudi Arabia, while realizing that it had unexpectedly failed to elicit any military support from Nawaz Sharif government on Yemeni issue, it linked the sensitive issue of protecting Two Holy Mosques with Yemini crises and could successfully turned Pakistani peoples' support and sentiments in favor of the Kingdom, through its is top religious leadership's visits to Pakistan and buttress of Sunni radical pro-Saudi Pakistani political parties.
Since Pakistan is a major Sunni dominated Muslim country, having considerable military strength and equipped with nuclear arsenal, Saudi Arabia through its religious overtures always placed its high stakes in Pakistan. It may be construction of South Asia's and Pakistan's largest mosque,viz; The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad in 1986: establishing of Pakistan largest International Islamic University at Islamabad; scholarships to thousands of Pakistani Islamic students to study in Saudi Arabia; Kingdom's solid support to Gen. Zia in initiating and then implementing Islamisation in Pakistan in 80s and above all Saudi Arabia's uninterrupted financial support to thousands of radical Madrassas in Pakistan are some of glaring examples of Saudi Arabia's indisputable religious support to Pakistan, which Saudi Arabia successfully could recoup in its favor during ongoing Yemeni crisis by winning support of people of Pakistan, contrary to Pakistan government's unfavorable stance on the issue.
Saudi Arabia's master stroke of exploiting religious sentiments of Pakistan and its radicals in her favor on Yemeni issue and scoring victory over Pakistan government on a bilateral concern must have taught Nawaz Sharif a colossal lesson to deal with new brand monarchy of Saudi Arabia cautiously in future as no Pakistani government can afford to overlook religious sentiment between the two countries.

Turkey - Tension over ban on Taksim Square, detentions mark May Day in İstanbul

Labor and Solidarity Day was marked with tension over a government-imposed ban on May 1 demonstrations in Taksim Square in central Istanbul and the detentions of hundreds of demonstrations in the city, while May 1 celebrations passed relatively peacefully in other provinces across Turkey.

Authorities took drastic security measures in central İstanbul neighborhoods, with thousands of police barricades and officers on the streets that lead to Taksim Square to prevent the entry of demonstrators. A large number of police officers from other provinces were flown into İstanbul as reinforcement.
Several unions, backed by opposition lawmakers, vowed to defy the ban on demonstrations. Union members and other demonstrators began to gather in neighboring Beşiktaş to march to Taksim. Other unions, including the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş), agreed to hold May Day celebrations in other venues and sent representatives to Taksim Square after receiving permission from the authorities. Türk-İş announced that the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, known for its coal mines, would be the center of its May Day celebrations this year.
In Taksim, police intervened when a group of protesters managed to reach the square despite a police blockade. Several demonstrators were detained.
Five people were also detained in the central İstanbul neighborhood of Okmeydanı after police found marbles and gas masks on them. News reports said the detainees were stopped and searched by the police, who have the power under a recently passed controversial internal security law to search people when there is “reasonable doubt.”
A group of people trying to enter Taksim Square were also detained by police at Kurtuluş Street.


Tension high in Beşiktaş

Tension was particularly high in the Beşiktaş neighborhood of İstanbul. A large number of people were detained in the neighborhood. There were allegations that the police were harassing some protesters in Beşiktaş, and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Aykut Erdoğdu attempted to approach a police vehicle over the allegations, but he injured his hand when he hit the window of the vehicle when the police refused to open it, CNNTürk reported on Friday.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a large group of demonstrators that included representatives of labor unions and lawmakers from the opposition CHP and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the Beşiktaş neighborhood. The police intervention came after hours-long negotiations between the police and the group, who were seeking to march to Taksim Square.
A large number of people were reportedly detained. Police officers were reportedly heard saying, “Make more detentions.” HDP İstanbul deputy candidate Salih Şahin was among those detained in Beşiktaş. HDP deputies Pervin Buldan and Sebahat Tuncel were also affected by tear gas fired by police in the area, Hürriyet reports.
Meanwhile, a demonstrator was stabbed in the abdomen by a parking lot employee during the protest in Beşiktaş. A member of the United June Movement was also wounded during the police intervention in Beşiktaş. The protester's arm was broken, Turkish media reported.
CHP İstanbul provincial head Murat Karayalçın was also among the main opposition party members who went to Beşiktaş Square to mark May Day. Releasing a press statement, he said that public holidays are not marked via orders, restrictions and decrees. “We as the CHP are rejecting the impositions of the government. We will not mark this celebration [May Day] in the same way as the government wants us to do. We will mark this holiday at Taksim Square on May 1, if the CHP comes to power [in the upcoming June 7 elections].”
Pointing to the police interventions in the crowds marking May Day in various parts of İstanbul, Karayalçın said they do not have any problem with the security forces as they just perform the orders from the government, adding that “we will struggle with the government. Our struggle will be at ballot boxes on June 7. We will take down this government and we will mark the next May Days in Taksim.”
A group of people holding sticks attacked a group of protesters in Beşiktaş. In his remarks on Twitter, CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu claimed those provocateurs were backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Riot police also used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a group of protesters who attempted to march from the central İstanbul neighborhood of Fulya to Taksim Square. Protesters clashed with the police, throwing stones and firecrackers. As the police intervention was under way, two protesters were assaulted by unidentified people.
Police detained several members of a group which managed to enter Taksim Square despite the police barricades.
As the protests continued, İstanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok announced after inspections at Taksim Square that 136 people have been detained in İstanbul during May Day celebrations.
The İstanbul Governor's Office released a written statement later over the tense May Day celebration on Friday in İstanbul, stating that 203 demonstrators had been detained, while 18 were injured during the celebrations in İstanbul. The governor's office also stated that six police officers were also injured during the incidents.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has repeatedly announced that the square, which holds particular symbolic significance in relation to May Day, will only be open for select and symbolic commemorations by labor unions and civil society, while all others will be prohibited from entering.
However; Erdoğan, who spoke to 400 workers at the presidential palace on May 1, said the insistence on celebrating May Day in Taksim Square is “wrong and evil-minded.”
“We do not shut down May Day to anyone. On the contrary, we are trying to keep it open for the whole of İstanbul,” he says, in response to allegations that the government is trying to prevent the celebrations with extreme security measures and bans.
The square holds particular importance for May Day observations due to the Taksim Square massacre of 1977 that resulted in 37 fatalities. As thousands occupied the square at the height of an era of political violence between left-wing and right-wing ideological groups, shots were heard at the scene. Four people died from the gunfire, but most of the deaths were due to the chaos that ensued as security forces intervened.


May Day celebrated peacefully in other provinces

Despite the highly tense celebrations in İstanbul, there were no major incidents in other provinces.
Members of the Action Workers' Syndicates Confederation (Aksiyon İş) held celebrations at Ulus Square in Ankara without being targeted by any police intervention on Friday. The group stood in silence for those workers who have died in job-related incidents and then let off white pigeons to send their message to the government and employers. Similar peaceful protests were also held by Aksiyon İş in other provinces such as Trabzon, Erzurum, Bursa and Gaziantep.
During the celebrations held in Yeşilsu Square in Gaziantep, the demonstrators commemorated the miners who died in the Soma and Ermenek mining disasters in 2014.
A total of 301 miners were killed in a mining explosion in Manisa province's Soma district in May, while 28 miners were killed in another mining disaster in Karaman province's Ermenek in October last year.
May Day celebrations were held in a festive atmosphere in İzmir province. The main celebration was held at Gündoğdu Square in the western city. Renowned singer Suavi gave a concert during the celebrations.
Two separate celebrations were held in Antalya province to mark May 1. The major celebration was held at Cumhuriyet Square. Demonstrators celebrated May Day peacefully with dance performances in Antalya.
A tense incident erupted for a short period during the May Day celebration in Niğde province. The police intervened when two groups clashed with each other during the demonstrations. The police used tear gas against the clashing groups. About 25 demonstrators were detained by the police.


Tourists suffer due to tight security precautions

Tourists staying in hotels near Taksim Square were forced to walk with their luggage as the streets leading to Taksim were closed to vehicles. Those tourists who wanted to go to the airport had to haul their luggage from Taksim to Eminönü to get a bus.
As almost all streets in Taksim blocked off by police barricades, some tourists could not reach their hotels at Taksim Square because the police did not allow them to do so. There were long queues, consisting of tourists who wanted to reach their hotels, in front of the police barricades.
İstanbul went into a security lockdown on Friday as thousands of police manned barricades and closed streets to stop May Day rallies at Taksim Square.The normally crowded İstiklal shopping avenue leading to Taksim was deserted, with shops shuttered and metal barricades blocking off sidestreets. Police helicopters circled overhead. A usually bustling square lined with cafes and hotels, Taksim was filled with police buses, ambulances and satellite broadcast trucks.
Apart from tourists, locals were also negatively affected by the situation. Some locals could not reach their homes due to the streets being blocked off. One local told the Cihan news agency: “I am coming from the hospital in Cerrahpaşa. I cannot reach my home in Cihangir. This is just nonsense.”
Another local also told the news agency that he could not reach his workplace because of the barricades. “I am calling my workplace. I cannot reach them. They [referring apparently to the government or the police] should give me my daily wage because I cannot reach my work because of them.”

Yemen - 30 civilians killed in fresh Saudi airstrikes on Sana’a

Fresh Saudi airstrikes against the Yemeni people have claimed the lives of at least 30 civilians in the capital city of Sana’a.
According to the local Yemeni officials, the Saudi airborne assaults on Friday targeted residential areas in the Sawan district of Sana’a, killing 30 civilians, including nine women and two children.
Several people were also injured following Saudi airstrikes on the Yemeni provinces of Aden, Hajjah, Ma’rib and Jawf.
Residential areas in Malahidh region in the northwestern province of Sa’ada were also targeted by Saudi warplanes. They also pounded two military bases in the capital and the western province of Hudaydah.
A bridge was also reportedly struck by Saudi fighter jets in the Huth district in Amran province.
Meanwhile, overnight clashes between the Saudi army and Yemen’s Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement left three Saudi guards dead near the Yemeni border, Riyadh said on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Mohammed Badr Bassalma, Yemen’s former transportation minister in the cabinet of the fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, called for “a direct military intervention” to stop the advance of the Ansarullah fighters in the violence-wracked country.
Security Council meeting
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council failed to agree on a Russia-drafted statement demanding a ceasefire in Yemen.
Reports said that the 15 member states of the UN body refused to back Moscow’s proposed statement that called for an immediate ceasefire in a bid to send humanitarian aid to the restive country.
"If you can't agree to a motherhood and apple pie statement, what can you agree on? I don't understand," Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said in reference to the inaction of the Security Council.
Churkin also lashed out at Washington for supporting the Saudi aggression against the Yemeni people.
"Clearly, they [US leaders] need to feel their responsibility since they are supporting the bombing of the coalition, the responsibility of the humanitarian consequences," he added.
The Russian ambassador also expressed Moscow’s serious concern over the escalating tension in Yemen, saying Riyadh shows no interest in resolving the Arab country's conflict through dialog and opts for military operations.
"We support negotiations but we don't see an interest on the part of those who are engaged in bombing, in engaging with the new special representative of the [UN] secretary general," Churkin stated.
Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 - without a UN mandate - in a bid to restore power to Hadi, who is a close ally of Riyadh.
On April 21, Riyadh announced the end of the first phase of its unlawful military operations, which claimed the lives of about 1,000 people, but airstrikes have continued with Saudi bombers targeting different areas across the country in a new phase.

UN World Health Organization: 1,244 people have been killed in Yemen conflict

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 1,250 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Yemen since mid March. 

On Friday, the UN health agency said 1,244 Yemenis had lost their lives and 5,044 had been injured from March 19 to April 27. 

Hundreds of women and children are among those killed, according to the WHO. 

Riyadh launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 - without a United Nations mandate - in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the country’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh. 

Hadi fled to Riyadh on March 25 when Houthis bore down on the strategic port city of Aden after taking control of the Yemeni capital last September. 

WHO said that on April 26 alone, about 20 people had been killed after Saudi airstrikes which targeted the local al-Thawra hospital in the city of Ta'izz. 

The agency also warned on Friday that most roads connecting the capital, Sana’a, to Aden, Ta'izz, al-Dhaale, and Lahj “were becoming gradually inaccessible,” making the distribution of medication difficult. 

This comes as Yemenis are already facing a severe shortage of medicine and health staff. 

Actual casualties are thought to be higher as many people are not taken to hospitals and therefore are not included in statistics from Yemeni health facilities, which provide WHO with updates. 

Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned of a dire shortage of fuel in Yemen, saying it may stop relief operations completely. 

On April 21, Riyadh announced the end of the first phase of its unlawful military operations, but airstrikes have continued with Saudi bombers targeting different areas across the country in a new phase. 

There has been an effective blockade on Yemen during the ongoing Saudi Arabian aggression, with airports being closed to civilian traffic and naval shipments experiencing numerous delays. 

President Obama on charges in Freddie Gray case: 'Justice needs to be served'

Reacting to news that six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray have been charged, President Barack Obama said Friday that it's "absolutely vital that the truth comes out."
Speaking in the Roosevelt Room at the end of a meeting to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, the president noted that it is the administration’s practice not to comment on legal proceedings but said that "justice needs to be served."
"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth," the president said. "That's what people around the country expect."
His brief comments followed extensive remarks on Gray's death during a press conference on Tuesday, a day after violence erupted in the city. Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against the officers on Friday morning, earlier than many had expected.
Obama said those charged are "entitled to due process and rule of law."

Video - President Obama Commemorates World Press Freedom Day

Music Video - Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up

How the United States Whitewashes May Day


When I was an 11-year-old kid in Chicago, my fifth grade class was assigned to do a school assembly for the month of May. As my teacher brainstormed what holidays are in May, I innocently suggested May Day. "No, Paul," she replied sternly. "May Day is only celebrated in Communist countries -- we can't do a play about a Communist holiday."
Of course, Miss Barth was wrong -- May Day is celebrated in almost every country in the world, except the United States. Even though the holiday commemorates the Haymarket Riot of 1886, which happened -- of all places -- in Chicago. But for years, the United States has intentionally whitewashed May Day from our culture and our consciousness.
Even in Chicago, it's almost impossible to find Haymarket Square where the riot occurred -- because it basically no longer exists. As Occupy protesters plan to wage massive May Day rallies today across the country, they will have a basic problem -- outside a circle of left-wing activists, most Americans have never heard of May Day. People may be drawn to protest because of their economic woes or Wall Street greed, but not because of some holiday that they never learned about in school.
When I suggested May Day to my fifth grade teacher for our school play, I was not a very precocious 11-year-old -- or even a red-diaper baby. I had just vaguely heard about May Day, as the holiday of fertility where you make flower baskets to celebrate the coming of spring. Any association that May Day has to workers rights -- or left-wing causes -- was foreign to me. But we should have learned about it in school, because the Haymarket Riot happened in Chicago.
On May 4, 1886, as part of a national effort by labor unions to pass an eight-hour workday, activists held a peaceful rally in Chicago's Haymarket Square. At around 10:30 p.m., a dynamite bomb exploded in the crowd -- killing seven police officers and four civilians. No one knows who threw the bomb, but the Police suspected and arrested eight anarchists. They were tried and convicted in what everyone admits was a sham trial -- and four of them were executed (one committed suicide in jail.)
The Haymarket Riot and its aftermath outraged working people and their allies across the world, and they started May Day to remember its martyrs and celebrate the struggles of working people. Today, May Day is a national holiday in over 80 countries across the world. While celebrated in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries, it is also a holiday in countries like the United Kingdom and Spain. After South Africa had its first free elections in 1994, May Day became a holiday.
In these countries, workers typically get the day off -- and mass rallies are held to celebrate the struggle of working people for fair wages and an eight-hour workday. My father now lives in Barcelona, Spain (after teaching at the University of Chicago for 20 years) -- and only first learned about May Day because of its rallies there.
But May Day never took hold in the United States. In 1894, after the Pullman Strike (which also happened in Chicago), President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day -- the first Monday in September -- a national holiday. Labor Day was chosen to intentionally co-opt May Day, because they feared commemorating the Haymarket Riot would build support for communism and other radical causes. In 1958 during the McCarthy Era, President Dwight Eisenhower took it even further by signing a law making May 1st Loyalty Day. And in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan enacted May 1st as "Law Day."
Unless you were a red-diaper baby, Americans don't grow up learning about May Day. We did not get the day off in school, and we certainly didn't do a fifth grade play about it. But when I was in the Chicago Public Schools, we got a three-day weekend in early March for Casimir Pulaski Day -- because of Chicago's large Polish-American community. Even the first grade class at Lincoln Elementary School did a play about Pulaski Day.
Haymarket Square? I lived in Chicago for 18 years, and only discovered its location while researching this article. There isn't much left of it, frankly. What used to be Haymarket Square is a block of West Randolph Street - between the Loop & the Kennedy Expressway. But we all knew Mrs. O'Leary's barn where her cow kicked the lantern, because the Chicago Fire Department now has a Training Academy there. Even though 20 years after the Great Chicago Fire, a reporter admitted he made it all up just to sell papers.
Which is why the Occupy Movement's goal of a "General Strike" with thousands of people in the streets on May Day is a little tone-deaf. Yes, May Day 2006 was a huge success -- when thousands of Latino immigrant families marched in cities across the country. But they were not marching to commemorate the Haymarket Riot -- they were protesting mass deportations and the right-wing anti-immigrant hysteria.
What made the May Day 2006 rallies so powerful and influential was it rounded upmore than the usual suspects. Spanish radio stations, churches and groups with deep ties in the Latino community spent weeks mobilizing people -- so that folks who you would never expect to be political suddenly got involved. Here in San Francisco, we're used to seeing a left-wing political protest every week with the same crowd. But the sight of immigrant moms marching down Market Street with baby strollers -- and kids waving Mexican and American flags -- was a sight to see.
Can the Occupy Movement generate a huge turnout of families being foreclosed on by the Wall Street banks, or young college graduates struggling for a job while under crushing debt? Sure, but you won't get the masses to turn out because it's May Day. And yet, all the flyers I've seen cater to the same left-wing crowd. If you want to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge (which Occupy organizers now admit they can't do), you need to expand your movement beyond the usual suspects -- i.e., people who don't know about May Day.
My fifth grade class at Lincoln Elementary School never did a school assembly about May Day -- in fact, Miss Barth could never find a good holiday in May to do instead. So we did a humorous play about a school cafeteria. I played the mashed potatoes, who none of the children ate because they all wanted French fries. Despite living in Chicago, it would be over a decade before I would learn the significance of May Day.
I often like to imagine what might have been if I were in Miss Barth's shoes. As the fifth grade teacher, I would have had the kids do a play about May Day -- where they re-enact the Haymarket Riot, and the conviction of eight anarchists. The kids would have learned about Chicago's proud labor history, and that these militant struggles brought workers' rights we take for granted today -- like the eight-hour workday.
After the play, the kids would turn to the audience and sing "Solidarity Forever" and "The Internationale" -- before concluding the assembly by enthusiastically shouting: "Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!" It would probably be at this point, where our school principal -- whose name (ironically) was Mr. May -- would have walked up to me in the auditorium, and fired me on the spot.

The Bloody Story of How May Day Became a Holiday for Workers


The story goes back to 1886.
Celebrations on May 1 have long had two, seemingly contradictory meanings. On one hand, May Day is known for maypoles, flowers and welcoming the spring. On the other hand, it’s a day of worker solidarity and protest; though the U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, many countries will celebrate Labor Day on Friday.
Like so many historical twists, by complete accident. As TIME explained in 1929, “To old-fashioned people, May Day means flowers, grass, picnics, children, clean frocks. To up-and-doing Socialists and Communists it means speechmaking, parading, bombs, brickbats, conscientious violence. This connotation dates back to May Day, 1886, when some 200,000 U. S. workmen engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour day.”How did that happen?
The May 1, 1886, labor action wasn’t just any strike—it was part of what became known as the Haymarket affair. On May 1 of that year, Chicago (along with other cities) was the site of a major union demonstration in support of the eight-hour workday. The Chicago protests were meant to be part of several days of action. On May 3, a strike at the McCormick Reaper plant in the city turned violent; the next day, a peaceful meeting at Haymarket Square became even more so. Here’s how TIME summed it up in 1938:
A few minutes after ten o’clock on the night of May 4, 1886, a storm began to blow up in Chicago. As the first drops of rain fell, a crowd in Haymarket Square, in the packing house district, began to break up. At eight o’clock there had been 3,000 persons on hand, listening to anarchists denounce the brutality of the police and demand the eight-hour day, but by ten there were only a few hundred. The mayor, who had waited around in expectation of trouble, went home, and went to bed. The last speaker was finishing his talk when a delegation of 180 policemen marched from the station a block away to break up what remained of the meeting. They stopped a short distance from the speaker’s wagon. As a captain ordered the meeting to disperse, and the speaker cried out that it was a peaceable gathering, a bomb exploded in the police ranks. It wounded 67 policemen, of whom seven died. The police opened fire, killing several men and wounding 200, and the Haymarket Tragedy became a part of U. S. history.
In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that, in commemoration of the Haymarket affair, May 1 would be an international holiday for labor, now known in many places as International Workers’ Day.
In the U.S., that holiday came in for particular contempt during the anti-communist fervor of the early Cold War. In July of 1958, President Eisenhower signed a resolution named May 1 “Loyalty Day” in an attempt to avoid any hint of solidarity with the “workers of the world” on May Day. The resolution declared that it would be “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States of America and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.”

In New York, Mixing May Day and Freddie Gray

 ,  , AND  

On Friday, two protests converged in New York City, the May Day Parade and Rally and a demonstration by Disarm NYPD, an organization that protests police brutality. The May Day Parade began in midtown Manhattan, while Disarm NYPD took over Union Square then began marching onto Second Avenue. 
"Perhaps the most appropriate meaning of May Day is that it is a day of commemoration for these demonstrators," Disarm NYPD said in a statement. The group began gathering around 3 p.m. Police officers told Newsweek the unofficial estimate for the Union Square crowd that began to march was around 1,000 people. 
"Women need jobs with a liveable wage, not police terror," read one sign in the square.
Some of those in Union Square celebrated Friday's arrest of six Baltimore police officers for the wrongful death of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries sustained during an arrest. Not all were enthusiastic in their expectations about the outcome of the trial against the officers. "I have mixed emotions about it because it has happened in the past but the police still got off," Khadija Amon-ra told Newsweek. "Unless all six of them go to jail, justice will not be served." 
In midtown, traffic closures were put into effect. The May Day commemoration is an official parade and will have the right to walk in the streets; the Union Square group does not have a parade permit, and therefore cannot walk in the streets. "It's unfair," said Dakem Daniels, a student at the Disarm NYPD protest. "If you looked at American history, you 'd see America has a history of fighting back." 
Barricades were used to keep protesters from taking over the entire street and there was a notable police presence. At least one person was detained by officers, though whether or not they were charged for any wrongdoing remains unclear. 
On Wednesday night in New York, a number of arrests during a police brutality protest were tied to people walking in the streets. More than 100 people were arrested, many for traffic violations and disorderly conduct. At one point, protesters blocked traffic on the West Side Highway. 
By 5:30 on Friday, a small group of about 25 people from the Asbestos, Lead and Hazardous Waste labor organization had gathered in midtown, as May Day is traditionally a celebration of the labor movement.
Some members of the May Day parade said they attended to stand in solidarity with Freddie Gray. "I am here for Freddie Gray and for everyone who has been killed from police brutality, racism and anything inhumane," said Priscilla Castillo, 23, who was marching with Union DC37. 
"Stop the carnage that is going on in the streets of this country. We've had enough," Oliver Gray, associate director of Union DC37, said. He held a sign that read, "Black Lives Matter," and he called on celebrities, including rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, to "step up to the plate."
The Union Square rally also drew some Some counter-protesters, mainly in protest of May Day.
Jim MacDonald, 65, told Newsweek he had come to counter-protest because he felt illegal immigration kept the minimum wage low. "We think the way to achieve a $15 an hour minimum wage is not let any more illegal aliens have work permits," he told Newsweek. No counter-protesters were spotted in midtown. 

Video - Workers march on Mar Day for better Labor Conditions

U.S. - #MayDay Marches Aim Towards Workers Rights, Immigration

Thousands of people will take to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Friday for annual May Day marches supporting rights for workers and immigrants, with an emphasis on pushing for a $15 minimum wage and implementation of President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.
The rallies and marches are expected to make life difficult for afternoon commuters in downtown Los Angeles, with street closures planned throughout the area to accommodate what are expected to be massive crowds. In an annual theme, police are urging motorists to avoid the area if at all possible and plan alternate routes.

A pair of marches are planned downtown, with participants expected to begin rallying at 3 p.m. and marching at 4 p.m.:
Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV
  • Participants in the International Workers March will gather at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, then march north on Broadway to Grand Park at Broadway and First Street.
  • Participants in the Full Rights March will gather at Cesar Chavez
Avenue and Broadway, march east on Cesar Chavez, south on Main Street, east on Aliso Street, south on Alameda Street then west on Temple Street, again ending at Grand Park.

The theme of the Full Rights March is "On May Day, No Justice Delayed," pushing for an increased minimum wage, implementation of Obama's orders to protect millions of immigrants from deportation and an end to police violence.

"It is our duty as a labor movement to fight for a living wage and enforcement so that working families have a chance to thrive," said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. "The time is now to raise the wage for hundreds of thousands of working Angelenos."

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, added that "justice has been denied to millions who await their chance at the American Dream."

"Justice has been denied to millions who work hard and earn barely enough to survive," she said. "Justice has been denied to millions whose dignity and respect have been trampled by law enforcement agencies. Enough is enough and our presence on May Day is the exclamation point in our demands."

The Los Angeles City Council is debating a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017, to $15.25 an hour by 2019, and higher levels in subsequent years based on the Consumer Price Index.

Supporters of the wage hike proposal say it will lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty and that businesses are capable of absorbing the increased costs, while critics of the plan say it would drive businesses out of the city and slow job growth.

Los Angeles County officials are also conducting studies on a possible hike in the minimum wage.

On the immigration front, millions of immigrants are awaiting the outcome of federal litigation over Obama's "deferred action" orders, which have been put on hold by a judge in Texas. Opponents of the orders -- most notably Republicans in Congress -- contend Obama overstepped his authority in issuing them.

Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said her organization is working to help immigrants take advantage of the programs, if they are implemented.

"On May 1, we will come together with our partners to give the community reliable, up-to-date information on what the programs do and don't do, and our legal and organizing staff will be there to answer questions from the public," Arevalo said.

Video - Turkish police fire tear gas, water cannon at #MayDay protesters