Check out what we've already gathered at Oly May Day: Justice for All . Anything further on this theme will eventually also be added in. Look through what has happened in past years in Oly May Day.
I encourage everyone to tell us their experiences, there is no deadline, and all civil discussions are welcome. Got photos, video, stories to tell? Please join in.
Direct Action can be a powerful act. It can provoke though, shift dynamics, empower and incite. It can also erode alliances, damage communities and bring harsh consequences. Direct Action is a powerful tool and it's use will always have a powerful response, be it positive or negative.
It is my opinion that there are two useful "yard sticks" with which to measure the effectiveness of any direct action, that is to say, there are two primary questions to ask yourself as you plan and engage in any action. Those would be "Is this action confronting an issue at its source, thereby making it 'direct'?" and "Does this action empower others to themselves take action?"
Using these questions as guides we can compare two recent actions from here in Olympia. First, the port actions of last November. For specificities sake, I'm talking about the road blockades, both human and physical. Held up to the first question, "Is this action confronting an issue at its source, thereby making it 'direct'?" I think the answer would be a pretty clear Yes. Blockading the path of military equipment is about as direct as you can get when it comes to confronting the war effort.
Reflections on May Day, 2008 in Olympia
May 3, 2008
The planning for the Olympia May Day and the resulting rally and march were a very worthwhile effort to connect the anti-war movement and GI resistance to the immigrant rights struggle within the context of the celebration of May Day--International Worker's day. I am very appreciative and supportive of the centering the May Day rally and march around the Sanctuary City proposal, possibly the first such proposal in the country that calls for a city to be a sanctuary for both GI's and immigrants. We need to connect issues and movements more as happened on May Day in Olympia. The rally and march was an excellent way to put this proposal for Olympia as a sanctuary in the public consciousness, the organizers of the May Day event deserve a lot of credit for this.
May Day 2008 in Olympia Washington went down with a bang when a (fractional) faction of the protest turned violent. Members of the "Black Bloc" threw rocks at several windows on at least two different bank buildings. Bank employees and customers were inside the buildings when this happened.
I was there - the whole afternoon. Up until the broken windows, the protests were peaceful and nonviolent. Although some of the speeches made me uncomfortable, and some of the speakers made statements that I certainly wasn't in complete agreement with, I felt enough solidarity to stick with the protest even after the Capitol Building was defaced with graffiti.
In fact, I wasn't really uncomfortable with the demeanor of the protest (besides the graffiti on the Capitol Building) until about 10 minutes prior to the first rock throwing incident. I noticed feelings of discomfort in regard to the tone of the protest when a certain vocal group (identity unknown to me) decided to lead the march down a one-way street directionally opposed to the flow of traffic. This move seemed somewhat unsafe, and it also seemed antagonistic toward drivers on 4th Ave, who had varying degrees of understanding about, and appreciation for, the protesters who were marching. I would have felt more comfortable and would have preferred, for example, to take State Ave. West, instead of marching in opposition to the one-way flow of traffic, and then to do a loop back toward the East on 4th Ave. My discomfort makes me curious; I wonder if anyone else was made uncomfortable by this decision to march against the flow of traffic. I was also additionally uncomfortable with the antagonistic and hostile chanting (yelling) of the slogan "Tear it down". Does that slogan possibly scare people and does it turn people off to the movement?
Just before Works In Progress went to press, we were given the following account of the events that followed the downtown Olympia May Day rally. The May issue of Works In Progress, which includes this and other articles of local interest, is now available at the usual locations around town, and will soon be posted to the Works In Progress website.
May 1: Eyewitness Report of May Day Melée
Most people know what to expect from May Day in Olympia. Music, dancing, marching (usually without a permit). Food Not Bombs serving from a big tub of soup. A festival, both to celebrate Beltane, and in honor of those who died so we could have a weekend, overtime pay, and an end to child labor. In recent years, this has been complimented with May Day’s additional focus as an immigrant rights day, and with it a focus on multilingualism and the ongoing ICE raids.
All went as expected for most of the day. Indeed, there was music. There was dancing. There was marching (with a legal permit, this year). There were invited speakers, talking about things ranging from the Longshore work stoppage, to the proposal before the Olympia City Council to establish Olympia as a Sanctuary City for war resisters and immigrants.
Here are a few videos and photos from yesterday's May Day Events:
Today I walked around down town Olympia, my home for the past Eighteen years. I knew that it was May Day, a day that years gone by, was cause for celebration, parades, marching bands, face painting, public nude mud wrestling, trash rhythem/drum circles, and an endless assortment of people doing beautiful, fun, out of the ordinary, things. Of course people spoke of politics, the war, poverty, and all the other issues of our society, but these topics were not the focus. May day for me has always been a day of celebrating the coming spring, a season of fertility and growth, new life sprouting and blooming. I did not march today, and all I saw were some young twenty year olds, dressed like the "black-bloc" of W.T.O. protest fame walk the streets shouting "Port of Olympia-Tear it down, Port of tacoma-Tear it down..." and such. Maybe I just missed the celebration part, I hope it was still there, not replaced by anger and fear. latter though I did witness some folks, about ten people, wraping a telephone line like a may pole, and smiled.
May Day 2008
Rally, Music, and March to the State Capitol
MAY 1ST.....Support Workers across the World •Stop the Raids & Deportations •Legalization Now • End the War in Iraq • Support War Resisters •Justice for all
MASS RALLY for IMMIGRANT & WORKER RIGHTS & GI RESISTANCE TO THE WAR IN IRAQ
Celebrate workers across the world united with the Immigrant Rights and Anti-War Movements. Meet us at Sylvester Park in Downtown Olympia to listen to speakers, hip hop music by Sound Asylum , and enjoy some good food in a family friendly environment. Topics will include a history of May Day and a Sanctuary City proposal that would protect the rights of undocumented workers and war resisters in Olympia , Washington .
Thursday May 1st at 12 p.m.
Gather at Sylvester Park for Rally and Music
Corner of Capitol Way and Legion Way
Downtown Olympia, WA
March to the State Capitol at 2 pm
Submitted by Merwyn Haskett on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 8:09am.
I'll never forget how Sound to Harbor Head Start/ECEAP nearly lost a grant that allowed more children to be taken into the program because the illegal street-blockers jeopardized the paperwork being delivered on time.
Let's see, bongo drums at the intersection of Cooper Point and Black Lake, or children (and their families) below the poverty line getting food, education and health services - it's not a tough choice to make at all.
Submitted by Guglielmo on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 9:29am.
Man, that is one traumatic, nearly delayed papers delivery!
Submitted by Merwyn Haskett on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 9:49am.
Come take part in planning this years Olympia May Day Celebration. This years events will be held in solidarity with workers world wide and focus on supporting undocumented workers and soldiers in and out of the military.
If you have something that you would like to bring to the table, join us every Tuesday at Last Word Books on 4th Avenue from 6pm to 8pm. We will be hashing out our plans and preparing for the celebration.
If you can't make and would like to help out e-mail email@example.com.