Originally, May Day was a celebration marking the beginning of summer. It was a joyous occasion to enjoy the blooming flowers, clear blue skies, and the coming warmer weather. But most people know it as a day of protest. That’s because on May 1, 1886, in Chicago, Illinois, workers began a multi-day protest in support of an 8 hour work day. The protest became violent and the occasion became known as the Haymarket Affair. Afterwards, the International Socialist Conference, in commemoration of the Haymarket Affair, announced that May 1st would be an international holiday for labor, now recognized as International Workers’ Day. While America officially recognizes it’s own Labor Day in September, many cities around the world, including America, recognize May Day as a day of protest for workers’ rights around the globe.
While International Workers’ Day/May Day has been a day of organized protest for over a century, they’ve started to become more and more violent recently as many cites have increased law enforcement presence. The country of Turkey has even gone so far as to ban May Day demonstrations, which resemble riots more than protests. In America, Seattle has become known for it’s heavily attended and sometimes hostile protests. In Seattle, as well as around the world, May Day isn’t just about workers’ rights anymore. May Day has become a day for general protest, with marches and demonstrations organized by the Veteran’s Anit-War Formation, Black Lives Matter, and groups supporting immigrant rights, climate justice, and the occupy movement. These marches and protests will shut down city streets and, because of the potential for violence, will force businesses to close early for the safety of their employees and the public.
If you are attending any of these marches and demonstrations, please plan to do so peacefully and responsibly. There will be plenty of law enforcement on hand to do their best to ensure things don’t get out of hand. Also be aware that it only takes a few missteps for things to spiral out of control. When that happens, emotions tend to take over, the rule of law tends to take a back seat, and people get injured and arrested.
Finally, remember that if anything goes wrong, My Bearded Lawyer is there to help you get it all figured out!