Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Day 2012 Afterthoughts

Personally, I'm rather glad that I and several other members of the local Occupy movement were given the opportunity to become involved with the planning of the May Day march this year. While I've been involved tangentially in the  past, this is  the first time that I've taken part in the actual planning and execution of the march from beginning to end. It was a lot of work and at times stressful, but the end result was well worth it.

As an Anarchist and someone who has been intimately involved in the fight for labor rights, May Day is a very important holiday for me in its own right. However, anyone that is genuinely interested in the professed ideals of the Occupy movements is or should become aware of the ways in which racism, homophobia, sexism, and nationalism are used to divide and set us against each other and to keep us fighting our fellow workers, with whom we actually have the most in common with, instead of uniting as the singular people that we truly are to eliminate abuses throughout the workplace and beyond.

Immigration laws and the police powers that the scare tactics associated with them bring, absolutely are an injury to all, even if the initial and most visible injury is perpetrated against a small minority. The undocumented worker that is blackmailed into accepting inferior pay and working conditions is also used as a threat against non-immigrant workers who dare to ask for better working conditions and pay for themselves. It's a vicious cycle that ultimately benefits no-one excepts the bosses.

Similarly, the cops in riot gear that we all witnessed tearing down Occupation tents, arresting, and abusing peaceful protesters were funded by budgets inflated through border controls and drug war justifications that primarily target minority communities with devastating effect. The creeping militarization of police starts at the borders, but it doesn't end there. Anyone that believes in the right to protest for basic human rights and common dignity needs to be in the fight, even if they haven't personally been affected by it yet.

May Day 2012 was a great success and I feel like Occupy Las Vegas brought several new and fun wrinkles to the march without distracting from the larger issues and goals of previous years. I hope that the other participants agree with that assessment and look forward to any other opportunities that might come along in which it would be appropriate for Occupiers to collaborate with UCIR, MEChA de UNLV, and the other groups/individuals who organized this important event.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Official Las Vegas May Day Press Release

General Strike & March in Support of Immigrant & Workers’ Rights on May 1st

On May 1st, 2012 the people of Las Vegas will participate in a day of action in solidarity with immigrants and workers of the world. We will join national efforts to support comprehensive immigration reform and denounce the passage of unjust laws that target the working poor, people of color, women, queer people, transgender people, im/migrants and other marginalized communities.

Economically disenfranchised communities continue to be oppressed as a result of the greed of corporations and governments; therefore, we are calling on our communities to take part in a general strike. We ask the community to not participate in the system for one day by abstaining from spending money, buying gas, going to school or work. Instead, come out into the street and march alongside us!

The March will begin at Commercial Center District and end at the Lloyd George Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas. The March will be followed by a rally and vigil at the Federal Building.

WHAT: May 1st Annual Immigrant & Workers’ Rights March, Rally and Vigil
WHEN: Saturday, May 1st 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: At the Commercial Center District, 953 East Sahara Avenue, LV 89104
Points of Unity:
  • Denounce and end the unprecedented number of deportations by the Obama administration 
  • Support Family Reunification. 
  • Close the immigrant detention centers. 
  • End anti-immigrant segregation in education: 
  • Support the Dream Act. 
  • No to the wall; no to the militarization of the border. 
  • Support same Sex bi-national couples: Support the Uniting American Families Act. 
  • Stop femicide along the US-Mexico Border. 
  • Stop the abusive, inhumane and genocidal treatment of immigrants. 
  • Support workers’ rights to organize. 
  • End Secure Communities, E-Verify, Arizona’s SB 1070, and Alabama’s HB 56. 
  • Stop using the term “illegal”. 
  • End the criminalization of and provide protection for Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender immigrants.
For more information, please contact Jasmine Rubalcava by Phone: (702) 900-4918 or email us at:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

May Day 2012 – A Declaration of Solidarity from Occupy Oklahoma

(courtesy of Zakk Flash and the General Assembly of Occupy Oklahoma)

WHEREAS, May 1st is officially recognized worldwide as International Workers' Day, a holiday originating in response to the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, where workers were fighting for the eight hour workday;

WHEREAS, the people of the world have risen against economic inequality, social domination, financial exploitation, government corruption, and iron-fisted authoritarianism in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Greece, and elsewhere;

WHEREAS, this working class movement has observed unchecked corporate power redefining the natural world as a body of resources to be exploited to serve their purposes and interests;

WHEREAS, the physical and economic assault of governments worldwide upon their peoples constitutes an attack on the principles of self-determination and democracy;

WHEREAS, corporate interests and the politicians they control continue to spread aggression in Washington DC, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and multitudinous countries of the world;

WHEREAS, our solidarity with the workers of the world constitutes our inalienable right to freedom of association;

WHEREAS, a call is growing for an international mass action to honor the struggles and sacrifices of working peoples around the world;

WHEREAS, isolated efforts at reform have failed to stem the growing tide of corporate power and the harm it causes to the working class;

WHEREAS, we recognize in the General Strike a powerful tool in the battle for democracy, a furtherance of social and economic conditions, and the provisions of education and healthcare;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of Occupy Oklahoma endorses the General Strike of May Day 2012, including work stoppages, street demonstrations, sick-outs, and other solidarity actions;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly of Occupy Oklahoma urges its constituent members to stand in solidarity in a “Day without Workers,” supporting a boycott of shopping, work, and school-related activities as part of May Day observances.

This resolution has been endorsed by:

The General Assembly of Occupy Oklahoma
Occupy Norman (University of Oklahoma)
Occupy Shawnee (Oklahoma)
The Central Oklahoma Black/Red Alliance (COBRA)
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective: Stillwater Cell
Earth Rebirth
The Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe (A-Cafe)


The author, Zakk Flash,  humbly puts this missive and all its contents at the disposal of those who, in good faith, might read, circulate, plagiarize, revise, and otherwise make use of them in the course of making the world a better place.

Possession, reproduction, transmission, excerpting, introduction as evidence in court and all other applications by any corporation, government body, security organization, or similar party of evil intent are strictly prohibited and punishable under natural law.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Official Flyer for MayDay

MayDay in Las Vegas

Primero de Mayo Flyer Anuncio Oficial

Primero De Mayo

Por qué Celebramos Primero de Mayo

Primero de Mayo
La mayoría de las personas que viven en los Estados Unidos saben muy poco sobre el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores del Primero de Mayo. Para muchos otros existe la suposición de que es un día de fiesta celebrado en países comunistas como Cuba o la antigua Unión Soviética. La mayoría de los estadounidenses no se dan cuenta de que el Primero de Mayo tiene sus orígenes en este país y es tan "americano" como el béisbol y el apple pie. El Primero de Mayo se originó en la fiesta pre-cristiana de Beltane, una celebración del renacimiento y la fertilidad.

En el siglo XIX, la clase obrera estaba en constante lucha para ganar la jornada laboral de 8 horas. Las condiciones de trabajo eran graves y era bastante común trabajar de 10 a 16 horas diarias en condiciones peligrosas. Muertes y lesiones eran comunes en muchos lugares de trabajo e inspiraron libros, tales como Upton Sinclair’s
The Jungle y Jack London’s The Iron Heel. Tan temprano como en los años 1860’s, la clase obrera organizo acortar la jornada laboral sin reducción de salario, pero no fue hasta finales de la década de 1880 que lograron reunir la fuerza suficiente para declarar la jornada de 8 horas. Esta proclamación fue sin el consentimiento de los empleadores, sin embargo, exigido por muchos de la clase obrera.

En ese tiempo, el socialismo era una idea nueva y atrayente para las personas que trabajan, muchos de los cuales se sintieron atraídos por la ideología de la clase obrera, del control sobre la producción y distribución de todos los bienes y servicios. Los trabajadores habían visto de primera mano que el capitalismo solamente beneficiaba a los jefes, intercambiando las vidas de los obreros por ganancias. Miles de hombres, mujeres y niños estaban muriendo innecesariamente cada año en el lugar de trabajo, con expectativa de vida de veinte años en algunas industrias, y la poca esperanza de salir adelante. El socialismo ofrecía otra opción.

Una variedad de organizaciones socialistas surgieron a lo largo de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, desde los partidos políticos a los grupos de coro. De hecho, muchos socialistas fueron elegidos a la oficina gubernamental por su distrito. Pero, de nuevo, muchos de ellos eran socialistas abandonados por el proceso político que era tan evidentemente controlado por las grandes empresas y la maquinaria política bipartidista. Decenas de miles de socialistas rompieron filas de sus partidos, rechazaron todo el proceso político, que fue visto como nada más que la protección para los ricos, y ha creado grupos anarquistas en todo el país. Literalmente miles de personas de la clase obrera adoptaron los ideales del anarquismo, que buscaban poner fin a todas las estructuras jerárquicas (incluyendo el gobierno), enfatizaron industrias contraladas por los trabajadores y valoraban la acción directa sobre el proceso político burocrático. Es incorrecto decir que los sindicatos fueron despojados por los anarquistas y los socialistas, sino más bien anarquistas y socialistas formaron los sindicatos.

En su convención nacional en Chicago, que tuvo lugar en 1884, la Federación de Oficios Organizados y Sindicatos (FOTLU, por sus siglas en ingles, que más tarde se convirtió en la Federación Americana de Labor), proclamó que "Ocho horas constituirán un día de trabajo legal de partir y después del 1 de mayo 1886." Al año siguiente, el FOTLU, respaldado por muchos
Knights of Labor locales, reiteraron su anuncio indicando que sería apoyada por las huelgas y manifestaciones. Al principio, la mayoría de los radicales y los anarquistas consideraron esta demanda como demasiado reformista porque no tocaba la raíz del problema. Un año antes de la masacre de Haymarket, Samuel Fielden, señaló en el periódico anarquista, The Alarm, que "si un hombre trabaja ocho horas al día, o diez horas al día, sigue siendo un esclavo."

A pesar de las dudas de muchos de los anarquistas, un cuarto de millones de trabajadores en el área de Chicago se involucraron directamente en la lucha para poner en práctica el día laboral de ocho horas, incluyendo Asamblea de Intercambio y Labor, el Partido Laborista Socialista y los
Knights of Labor locales. A medida que la movilización juntaba mas y mas fuerza en contra los empleadores, estos radicales entregados a lucha por la jornada de 8 horas se dieron cuenta de que "las opiniones y determinación de la mayoría de los trabajadores estaban en esta dirección." Con la participación de los anarquistas parecía haber una introducción a mayores problemas que la jornada de 8 horas. Se desarrolló un sentido de una revolución social más allá de los beneficios inmediatos de los días laborales más cortos y un cambio drástico en la estructura económica del capitalismo.

En una proclamación emprimada justo antes del 1ro de mayo de 1886, una editorial hizo un llamado a los trabajadores con esta súplica:

  • ¡Trabajadores a las armas!
  • Guerra al Palacio, Paz para el pueblo, y muerte a la ociosidad lujosa.
  • El sistema de salarios es la única causa de la miseria del mundo. Este sistema está apoyado por las clases ricas y para destruirlo estos deben ser puestos a trabajar o MORIR.
  • ¡Un kilo de dinamita es mejor que un montón de BOLETAS!
  • HAGA SU DEMANDA DE OCHO HORAS con las armas en sus manos para cumplir con los capitalistas, la policía y las milicias de la manera adecuada.

No es sorprendente que la ciudad entera estaba preparada para el derramamiento de sangre masivo, una evocación de la huelga de ferrocarriles en la década anterior, cuando la policía y los soldados mataron a tiros a cientos de trabajadores en huelga. El 1 de mayo de 1886 más de 300,000 trabajadores en 13,000 empresas en todo Estados Unidos abandonaron sus puestos de trabajo en celebración del Primero de Mayo en la historia. En Chicago, el centro de los activistas de la jornada de 8 horas, 40,000 fueron a la huelga con los anarquistas con atención del público. Con sus discursos motivadores y ideología revolucionaria de la acción directa, los anarquistas y el anarquismo se convirtió en algo respetado y aceptado por la clase obrera y despreciados por los capitalistas.

Los nombres de muchos, Albert Parsons, Johann Most, August Spies y Lingg Louis-se convirtieron en nombres conocidos del hogar en Chicago y en todo el país. Desfiles, bandas y decenas de miles de manifestantes en las calles ejemplificaron la fuerza de los trabajadores y la unidad, sin embargo, no llegó a ser violenta, como los periódicos y las autoridades predijeron.

Más y más trabajadores continuaron abandonando sus puestos de trabajo hasta que el número aumentó a casi 100,000 y prevaleció la paz. No fue sino hasta dos días más tarde, 3 de mayo de 1886, que la violencia estalló en el McCormick Reaper Works entre la policía y los huelguistas.

Durante seis meses, los agentes de Pinkerton armados y la policía acosaron y golpearon a los trabajadores que estaban en huelga. La mayoría de estos trabajadores pertenecían a la Unión Obrera del Metal "dominado por los anarquistas". Durante un discurso cerca de la planta McCormick, unos doscientos manifestantes se unieron a los trabajadores que estaban en huelga. Golpes con palos de la policía desembocaron el lanzamiento de piedras por los huelguistas, que la policía respondió con disparos. Por lo menos dos delanteros murieron y un número indeterminado resultaron heridos.

Llenos de rabia una reunión pública fue convocada por algunos de los anarquistas para el día siguiente en la plaza de Haymarket para discutir la brutalidad de la policía. Debido al mal tiempo y corto tiempo de plazo sólo alrededor de 3,000 de las decenas de miles de personas se presentaron desde el día anterior. Esta junta incluía a familias con hijos y el alcalde de Chicago. Más tarde el alcalde declararía que la multitud se mantuvo en calma y ordenada y que el hablante August Spies hizo "ninguna sugerencia ... para uso inmediato de fuerza o violencia hacia cualquier persona ..."

A medida que el discurso acababa, dos detectives se apresuraron para hablar con la policía informándoles que un orador estaba utilizando un lenguaje violento, incitando a la policía que se subieran al vagón de los habladores. A medida que la policía comenzó a dispersar a la multitud que ya se estaba yendo, una bomba fue arrojada a las filas de la policía. Nadie sabe quién lanzó la bomba, pero las especulaciones vareaban a culpar a cualquiera de los anarquistas, a un agente espía para la policía.

Enfurecidos la policía disparó contra la multitud. El número exacto de civiles muertos o heridos nunca fue determinado, pero murieron unos siete u ocho civiles, y hasta cuarenta heridos. Un oficial murió en el acto y otros siete murieron en las semanas siguientes. Más tarde las pruebas indicaron que sólo una de las muertes de policías podría atribuirse a la bomba y que todos los otros policías muertos pudieron haber muerto debido a u incidente con su propio fuego de arma. Aparte del lanzamiento de bomba, que nunca fue identificado, fueron la policía, no los anarquistas, que perpetraron la violencia.

Ocho anarquistas - Albert Parsons, August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Neebe Oscar, Michael Schwab, George Engel, Adolph Fischer y Lingg Luis, fueron detenidos y condenados por asesinato, aunque sólo tres estaban presentes en Haymarket, y los tres estaban a la vista de todos cuando el bombardeo se produjo. El jurado en los juicios estaba compuesto de líderes de negocios como una burla de la justicia, algo similar al caso de Sacco y Vanzetti treinta años más tarde, o los juicios de AIM y los miembros de la pantera negra en los años setenta. El mundo entero vio como los ocho organizadores fueron condenados, no por sus acciones, de los cuales todos eran inocentes, sino por sus creencias políticas y sociales. El 11 de noviembre de 1887, después de muchas apelaciones fracasadas, Parsons, Spies, Engel y Fischer fueron ahorcados hasta la muerte. Louis Lingg, en su protesta final de la demanda del estado de la autoridad y el castigo, se quitó la vida la noche anterior con un artefacto explosivo en la boca.

Los organizadores restantes, Fielden, Neebe y Schwab, fueron indultados seis años más tarde por el gobernador Altgeld, quien públicamente criticó al juez en una parodia de la justicia. Inmediatamente después de la masacre de Haymarket, las grandes empresas y el gobierno llevó a cabo lo que algunos dicen fue el primer "Red Scare" en este país. Tejido por medios de comunicación, el anarquismo se convirtió en sinónimo de lanzamiento de la bomba y el socialismo se convirtió en anti-estadounidense. La imagen común de un anarquista se convirtió en un inmigrante con barba, de Europa del Este con una bomba en una mano y una daga en la otra.

Hoy vemos decenas de miles de activistas que adoptan los ideales de los Mártires de Haymarket y aquellos que establecieron el Primero de Mayo como el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores. Irónicamente, el Primero de Mayo es un día feriado oficial en 66 países y oficialmente se celebra en muchos más, pero rara vez es reconocido en este país donde comenzó.

Más de cien años han pasado desde aquel Primero de Mayo. En la primera parte del siglo 20, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos trató de poner freno a la celebración y aun más borrar de la memoria del público estableciendo el "Día de Ley y el Orden", el 1 de mayo. Podemos trazar muchos paralelos entre los acontecimientos de 1886 y hoy en día. Todavía tenemos trabajadores de metal en huelga luchando por la justicia. Todavía tenemos las voces de la libertad tras las rejas como en el caso de Mumia Abu Jamal y Leonard Peltier. Todavía tenemos la capacidad de movilizar a decenas de miles de personas en las calles de una gran ciudad para proclamar "¡ASI ES LA DEMOCRACIA!" en las manifestaciones contra el WTO y FTAA.

Las palabras más fuertes que cualquier otro podría escribir están grabadas en el Monumento Haymarket:

En verdad, la historia tiene mucho que enseñarnos acerca de las raíces de nuestro radicalismo. Cuando recordamos que personas fueron fusilados para que pudiéramos tener la jornada de 8 horas, cuando reconocemos que hogares con familias adentro de ellos fueron completamente quemados para que pudiéramos tener el sábado como parte del fin de semana, cuando recordamos a las víctimas de 8 años de edad de los accidentes laborales que se manifestaron en las calles protestando por las condiciones de trabajo y la lucha infantil sólo para que la policía y agentes los encontraran a golpes, entendemos que hay que valorar nuestra condición actual - la gente luchó por los derechos y la dignidad que hoy disfrutamos, y todavía hay mucho más por luchar. Los sacrificios de tantas personas no pueden ser olvidados o vamos a terminar peleando por esos mismos beneficios de nuevo. Es por eso que celebramos el Primero de Mayo.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Occupy Las Vegas May Day Planning

This video was taken during a recent Occupy Las Vegas General Assembly, featuring Joanna of UCIR/Mecha de UNLV discussing May Day and inviting Occupy Las Vegas members to join the Las Vegas May Day Planning Committee. (Unfortunately, the audio isn't great.)

Occupy Las Vegas GA's are held Wednesday and Sunday evenings at 7pm on the back patio of the UNLV Student Union center (on campus). Planning meetings for the May Day events are held on Fridays from 6pm to 8:30pm the Center for Social Justice/Houssels, which is also located on the UNLV campus. Both meetings are open to anyone interested in attending.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Video: The Haymarket Martyrs--Origin of International Workers Day

A documentary about the Haymarket protests and the resulting trial and execution of eight Anarchist labor activists, which inspired the May Day holiday.

The Brief Origins of May Day - By Eric Chase - 1993

Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers' Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don't realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as "American" as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility.

In the late nineteenth century, the working class was in constant struggle to gain the 8-hour work day. Working conditions were severe and it was quite common to work 10 to 16 hour days in unsafe conditions. Death and injury were commonplace at many work places and inspired such books as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Jack London's The Iron Heel. As early as the 1860's, working people agitated to shorten the workday without a cut in pay, but it wasn't until the late 1880's that organized labor was able to garner enough strength to declare the 8-hour workday. This proclamation was without consent of employers, yet demanded by many of the working class.

At this time, socialism was a new and attractive idea to working people, many of whom were drawn to its ideology of working class control over the production and distribution of all goods and services. Workers had seen first-hand that Capitalism benefited only their bosses, trading workers' lives for profit. Thousands of men, women and children were dying needlessly every year in the workplace, with life expectancy as low as their early twenties in some industries, and little hope but death of rising out of their destitution. Socialism offered another option.

A variety of socialist organizations sprung up throughout the later half of the 19th century, ranging from political parties to choir groups. In fact, many socialists were elected into governmental office by their constituency. But again, many of these socialists were ham-strung by the political process which was so evidently controlled by big business and the bi-partisan political machine. Tens of thousands of socialists broke ranks from their parties, rebuffed the entire political process, which was seen as nothing more than protection for the wealthy, and created anarchist groups throughout the country. Literally thousands of working people embraced the ideals of anarchism, which sought to put an end to all hierarchical structures (including government), emphasized worker controlled industry, and valued direct action over the bureaucratic political process. It is inaccurate to say that labor unions were "taken over" by anarchists and socialists, but rather anarchists and socialist made up the labor unions.

At its national convention in Chicago, held in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which later became the American Federation of Labor), proclaimed that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886." The following year, the FOTLU, backed by many Knights of Labor locals, reiterated their proclamation stating that it would be supported by strikes and demonstrations. At first, most radicals and anarchists regarded this demand as too reformist, failing to strike "at the root of the evil." A year before the Haymarket Massacre, Samuel Fielden pointed out in the anarchist newspaper, The Alarm, that "whether a man works eight hours a day or ten hours a day, he is still a slave."

Despite the misgivings of many of the anarchists, an estimated quarter million workers in the Chicago area became directly involved in the crusade to implement the eight hour work day, including the Trades and Labor Assembly, the Socialistic Labor Party and local Knights of Labor. As more and more of the workforce mobilized against the employers, these radicals conceded to fight for the 8-hour day, realizing that "the tide of opinion and determination of most wage-workers was set in this direction." With the involvement of the anarchists, there seemed to be an infusion of greater issues than the 8-hour day. There grew a sense of a greater social revolution beyond the more immediate gains of shortened hours, but a drastic change in the economic structure of capitalism.

In a proclamation printed just before May 1, 1886, one publisher appealed to working people with this plea:
  • Workingmen to Arms!
  • War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.
  • The wage system is the only cause of the World's misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.
  • One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!
  • MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.
Not surprisingly the entire city was prepared for mass bloodshed, reminiscent of the railroad strike a decade earlier when police and soldiers gunned down hundreds of striking workers. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public's eye. With their fiery speeches and revolutionary ideology of direct action, anarchists and anarchism became respected and embraced by the working people and despised by the capitalists.

The names of many - Albert Parsons, Johann Most, August Spies and Louis Lingg - became household words in Chicago and throughout the country. Parades, bands and tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets exemplified the workers' strength and unity, yet didn't become violent as the newspapers and authorities predicted.

More and more workers continued to walk off their jobs until the numbers swelled to nearly 100,000, yet peace prevailed. It was not until two days later, May 3, 1886, that violence broke out at the McCormick Reaper Works between police and strikers.

For six months, armed Pinkerton agents and the police harassed and beat locked-out steelworkers as they picketed. Most of these workers belonged to the "anarchist-dominated" Metal Workers' Union. During a speech near the McCormick plant, some two hundred demonstrators joined the steelworkers on the picket line. Beatings with police clubs escalated into rock throwing by the strikers which the police responded to with gunfire. At least two strikers were killed and an unknown number were wounded.

Full of rage, a public meeting was called by some of the anarchists for the following day in Haymarket Square to discuss the police brutality. Due to bad weather and short notice, only about 3000 of the tens of thousands of people showed up from the day before. This affair included families with children and the mayor of Chicago himself. Later, the mayor would testify that the crowd remained calm and orderly and that speaker August Spies made "no suggestion... for immediate use of force or violence toward any person..."

As the speech wound down, two detectives rushed to the main body of police, reporting that a speaker was using inflammatory language, inciting the police to march on the speakers' wagon. As the police began to disperse the already thinning crowd, a bomb was thrown into the police ranks. No one knows who threw the bomb, but speculations varied from blaming any one of the anarchists, to an agent provocateur working for the police.

Enraged, the police fired into the crowd. The exact number of civilians killed or wounded was never determined, but an estimated seven or eight civilians died, and up to forty were wounded. One officer died immediately and another seven died in the following weeks. Later evidence indicated that only one of the police deaths could be attributed to the bomb and that all the other police fatalities had or could have had been due to their own indiscriminate gun fire. Aside from the bomb thrower, who was never identified, it was the police, not the anarchists, who perpetrated the violence.

Eight anarchists - Albert Parsons, August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, Michael Schwab, George Engel, Adolph Fischer and Louis Lingg - were arrested and convicted of murder, though only three were even present at Haymarket and those three were in full view of all when the bombing occurred. The jury in their trial was comprised of business leaders in a gross mockery of justice similar to the Sacco-Vanzetti case thirty years later, or the trials of AIM and Black Panther members in the seventies. The entire world watched as these eight organizers were convicted, not for their actions, of which all of were innocent, but for their political and social beliefs. On November 11, 1887, after many failed appeals, Parsons, Spies, Engel and Fisher were hung to death. Louis Lingg, in his final protest of the state's claim of authority and punishment, took his own life the night before with an explosive device in his mouth.

The remaining organizers, Fielden, Neebe and Schwab, were pardoned six years later by Governor Altgeld, who publicly lambasted the judge on a travesty of justice. Immediately after the Haymarket Massacre, big business and government conducted what some say was the very first "Red Scare" in this country. Spun by mainstream media, anarchism became synonymous with bomb throwing and socialism became un-American. The common image of an anarchist became a bearded, eastern European immigrant with a bomb in one hand and a dagger in the other.

Today we see tens of thousands of activists embracing the ideals of the Haymarket Martyrs and those who established May Day as an International Workers' Day. Ironically, May Day is an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in many more, but rarely is it recognized in this country where it began.

Over one hundred years have passed since that first May Day. In the earlier part of the 20th century, the US government tried to curb the celebration and further wipe it from the public's memory by establishing "Law and Order Day" on May 1. We can draw many parallels between the events of 1886 and today. We still have locked out steelworkers struggling for justice. We still have voices of freedom behind bars as in the cases of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier. We still had the ability to mobilize tens of thousands of people in the streets of a major city to proclaim "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" at the WTO and FTAA demonstrations.

Words stronger than any I could write are engraved on the Haymarket Monument:
Truly, history has a lot to teach us about the roots of our radicalism. When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day; if we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend; when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beat down by the police and company thugs, we understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted - people fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, and there is still a lot more to fight for. The sacrifices of so many people can not be forgotten or we'll end up fighting for those same gains all over again. This is why we celebrate May Day.