Occupy returns tomorrow with protests planned in 115 U.S. cities
In case you’d forgotten, tomorrow is May Day—traditionally a day for advocacy by labor groups, and this year co-opted by the Occupy movement to reinvigorate Occupy worldwide.
Occupy has been planning and spreading word of the May Day General Strike for weeks. While the epicenter for the day’s festivities will be New York, 115 cities now have local protests or general strikes scheduled.
Occupy is aiming to get thousands of people back out into the street to raise awareness about wealth disparity after a sleepy winter and early spring in 2012. Just as SOPA blackout day showed us what the web would be like without free internet practices, tomorrow’s strike is supposed to show us a “day without the 99 percent”—an ambitious goal that would require getting huge numbers of people to check out of their normal responsibilities for the day. “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” the group said in an email. (Check here for some inspiration on excuses for getting out of work for the day.)
Tomorrow’s general strike boasts a whole different strategy than the one that made Occupy famous last fall: Instead of one centralized protest with a crushing confrontation with cops all but inevitable, tomorrow’s festivities will include many smaller activities throughout the city. They range from the symbolically potent, like the 99 pickets being set up outside businesses in midtown Manhattan, to downright fun: Das Racist and Dan Deacon will play a free show tomorrow afternoon in Union Square, and Tom Morello will lead a “guitarmy” of 1,000 guitar players to play in unison with him in Bryant Park before marching down to Union Square.
Decentralized protests should be harder to shut down, although Bloomberg and the NYPD sound up to the challenge. The NYPD’s chief spokesman said “We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both”—of course not including the department’s vast experience responding inappropriately to those engaging in lawful activity. Bloomberg added, “Our tactics are something that we don’t talk about in advance for obvious reasons.”
In New York, success may come down to weather—something that doesn’t bode well for the strike. Occupy’s Patrick Bruner said, “If it rains, we’re fucked.” Tuesday’s forecast is currently calling for rain until 6pm.
But with protests also slated in 115 cities including “Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia,” according to Bloomberg, tomorrow should put Occupy back on the map either way.
Visit Occupy’s site for more details.