By Braden Bjella
Published on May 1, 2017
International Workers' Day, which falls annually on May Day, is an internationally recognized holiday supporting the rights of working people. In New York City, political and activist groups gathered in Union Square to both stand in solidarity with each other and to share progressive ideas about the country’s future. Many came bearing signs; others signaled only with their voices. Despite differences in their motivation for attendance, the community was brought together by their feelings of mutual crisis, unifying their message and propelling them into the future.
Here is a sample of some of the many groups present at the event, as well as their stories and photos.
Workers World Party
“Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite” is the slogan emblazed across the front page of the Workers World Party’s website, and it perfectly encapsulates the issues the party fights for and the messages they put forth. The Workers World is considered communist in nature and prints a weekly newspaper entitled Workers World.
As stated on their website, “Cosecha is a new nonviolent movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.” Cosecha advocates for worker strikes to defend the rights of working immigrants. It also provides educational tools and resources for immigrant workers who wish to strike or protest their working conditions.
International Migrants Alliance
The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) was established in 2008 and currently has support from groups around the world. They describe themselves as an “alliance of organizations of grassroots migrants, refugees and displaced peoples.”
International Action Center
“Information, activism & resistance to U.S. militarism, war & corporate greed, linking with struggles against racism & oppression within the United States.” Founded in 1992 by former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the IAC supports anti-imperialist movements around the world and opposes U.S. military intervention.
International League of Peoples' Struggle
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle is an organization seeking coordination between anti-imperialist and democratic movements, “including the workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals and other sectors of society against the ideological, political, military, economic, social and cultural domination and attacks of imperialism and reaction.”
The idea behind LinkNYC, a program designed to bring free WiFi to the people of New York, was initially heralded as a public success, democratizing information and providing people who would not normally have access to the internet with a way to go online. However, Rethink LinkNYC argues the implementation of this program has major consequences; the LinkNYC kiosks are equipped with cameras, microphones, and data collection capabilities. They state that “LinkNYC is not community WiFi. LinkNYC is mass surveillance and corporate profit marketed as free WiFi.”
Puerto Rican Rights
Although not officially unified under one title, a prominent presence at the Union Square event was a collective of people supporting the rights of Puerto Ricans, venting anger about the Puerto Rican economic crisis and fighting against looming austerity measures. This group encouraged attendees to follow the hashtag #paronacional, which has today filled Twitter with photos from protests in Puerto Rico and around the United States.
Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women
In a flyer distributed by members of the group, the NYCFSP calls for “full citizenship rights for those without papers,” “money for social needs, not for war, walls, or a police state,” and the opening of borders. The group fights for revolutionary internationalism, union democracy, women’s liberation, and more.