‘May Day’ Protesters Rally From Coast to Coast
(NEW YORK) — Police detained at least six people in New York as Occupy demonstrators and labor and immigration activists participated in “May Day” protests across the country on Tuesday.
Protest organizers said they intended to show the “1 percent” what life without the “99 percent” would look like, as they encouraged workers and students to take a day off in solidarity against income inequality and “unjust” corporate practices.
ABC New York affiliate WABC reported that four protesters were detained during the march across Williamsburg Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and at least two protesters were detained in midtown Manhattan.
An estimated 200 protesters are in Madison Square Park in New York City, while another 500 people are in Bryant Park. In Chicago, an estimated 1,000 people have gathered in a section of Union Park despite occasional rain, the Chicago Tribune reported.
As letters containing white powder, later determined to be non-toxic, arrived in mail rooms of Manhattan banks and New York’s City Hall, a wide range of protesters gathered around the buildings of corporations and city centers across the country.
The FBI announced on Tuesday that that they arrested a group of anarchists who allegedly plotted to use explosives to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio, and attack this summer’s Republican National Convention in Florida. The FBI’s criminal complaint does not state the attacks were planned as part of the May Day protests.
Pete Dutro, an Occupy organizer from Brooklyn, N.Y., said the date of the nationwide strike is related to the Haymarket massacre in Chicago. Demonstrators were protesting on May 4, 1886 in favor of an eight-hour workday when a bomb was thrown, killing both police and workers. Some labor groups recognize May 1 as “International Workers’ Day.”
Andy Thayer, a Chicago Occupy member and the spokesperson for the Coalition Against NATO/G-8, called this year’s strike “a national phenomenon” with immigration rights advocates partnering with the Occupy movement.
“There’s a good buzz about it—the kind of display not been seen in many decades: a demonstration of solidarity on immigrant rights, but also about labor’s winning back rights or winning rights anew,” Thayer said.
Events are taking place at all hours of the day, from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York.
In New York, community groups, unions and Occupy Wall Street protesters converged at a number of locations starting at 8 a.m., including the Chase Building, New York Times Building, Sotheby’s, and a U.S. post office. Protesters planned to march over the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan after meeting in Continental Army Plaza at 10:30 a.m.
Dutro said he has been coordinating with protesters in other cities, including Los Angeles. There, a strike at Los Angeles International Airport was scheduled for 6 a.m. in conjunction with some members of the Service Employees International Union and United Service Workers West.
Another protest event in Los Angeles, dubbed, “Let Them Eat Cupcakes,” was planned for tony shopping area Rodeo Drive around 12 p.m.
In Chicago, gatherings included a protest at noon in Union Park, followed by a march downtown at 1 p.m.
When asked if the nationwide protests, which are aiming to disrupt the work day and commuting, risk alienating workers who are not participating in the day’s events, Dutro said he would sympathize with their frustration.
But, “by complaining, I would say you further help others that maintain the status quo, and what is clear is the status quo is not working,” he said. “Yes, they have families and have to work and all these other things. But in the greater scheme of things, if we don’t solve these problems now there will be less and less work to go to.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio