Occupy Philadelphia will once again be a visible presence on the streets today. Along with other Occupy chapters around the world, they are celebrating May Day today – and it doesn’t involve a Medieval festival or ribbon-dressed pole.
Occupy is calling for a general strike today, with no work, school, housework, shopping or banking. They have planned a series of protests and advocacy events in Philadelphia, including a demonstration against foreclosure in West Philadelphia, a bank march in Center City beginning at Wells Fargo, and a rally at the labor monument in Elmwood Park, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Though its been largely pushed to the back of the public consciousness since the massive New York City May Day marches of the Great Depression, the holiday has deep roots.
May 1st, also known as International Worker’s Day, has been a historic date for the labor and protest movement since 1886, when a demonstrator threw a bomb at police as they dispersed a rally in Chicago advocating for an eight hour work day. The event touched off what has been termed the Haymarket Massacre, as police opened fire, killing scores of protesters and several officers.
Socialist organizations called for an international day of strike soon after, and the holiday became largely associated with left-wing politics through the 1900s. In recent years, several high profile immigration rallies have been held on May 1st. Labor union locals also often observe the date unofficially in many areas.
Unlike Occupiers in some other cities, such as New York, Occupy Philadelphia has announced no organized plans to intentionally disrupt traffic coming in or out of the city.