May Day report, Europe, USA, elsewhere

This is a video from the USA of a May Day march, especially for immigrant workers’ rights.

From London daily The Morning Star:

Thousands celebrate May Day in London

Friday 01 May 2009

by John Millington

THOUSANDS of people from across the trade union and peace movement marched through London on Friday to mark International Workers Day.

The annual event for working people brought together many diverse elements of the labour movement, including Visteon workers, anti-Trident campaigners and Tamil solidarity activists.

Fears that recent clashes with the police at the G20 demonstration would deter workers and families from attending proved to be unfounded.

Another London May Day report: here.

Visteon workers’ victory: here. And here.

Workers of the world march on May Day: here.

From Associated Press:

Europeans rally on May Day amid economic worries

Associated Press Writer

PARIS — Hundreds of thousands of European workers feeling the pinch of the economic crisis rallied at May Day protests Friday from Moscow to Berlin to Istanbul.

Violence and clashes between police and angry protesters disrupted some events, including in Greece, Germany and Turkey. But overall participation fell short of what many countries’ unions had hoped for on May Day, a public holiday in many countries that has long celebrated the social and economic achievements of labor movements.

Many of the protesters complained about rising unemployment and lost benefits, but few specifics appeared to emerge from the demonstrations about what governments should be doing to fight the global crisis.

In Paris, fractious French labor unions came together for the first time in decades to stage a joint march that ended at the Place de la Bastille. Up to 300 smaller demonstrations were planned across France, and police said turnout in Strasbourg, Nancy, Metz and Besancon was many times higher than last year’s May Day events.

“There are five to six times more protesters than on a normal May Day,” said Francois Chereque, head of the CFDT union.

Police put nationwide turnout at 465,000, while unions said some 1.2 million people took to the streets on Friday. Last year, May Day marches across France drew an estimated 100,000-200,000 people.

The French rallies followed months of protests and a spate of “boss-nappings” – in which workers angry over job cuts held key managers hostage in an attempt to win concessions. But all of Friday’s rallies were smaller than March 16 protests, when more than 1 million people across France demanded more government protections against the financial downturn.

“Exasperation is rising. Why should the people pay for a crisis for which they are absolutely not responsible?” said New Anticapitalist Party [see also here] spokesman Francis Viguie at a march in the southern city of Montpellier.

In Italy, union leaders shifted May Day rallies from major cities to the earthquake-stricken town of L’Aquila as a sign of solidarity with thousands who lost their jobs when businesses crumbled in last month’s quake.

Spain – which has gone from being one of Europe’s strongest economies to having its highest unemployment rate – saw tens of thousands of people demonstrate. Still, participation failed to reach the massive levels union leaders called for.

In Turkey, which only last week declared the international labor day a public holiday, unionists rallied at a previously banned site where dozens died during a May Day demonstration three decades ago. But the event was marred by nearby fighting between riot police and leftists. At least 26 people were detained, the Anatolia news agency reported.

A protest in the German capital turned violent as leftists hurled bottles and burning objects at police. A group of 400 blocked a streetcar line by sitting on the tracks. Police said 28 were detained in Berlin, and another 200 in the western city of Dortmund, where far-right demonstrators pitched fireworks and stones at pedestrians and police. In the southern city of Ulm, police turned water cannons on thousands who turned out to demonstrate against a smaller gathering of neo-Nazis.

In neighboring Austria, officials said five people were arrested and more than 20 injured in clashes between protesters and police at a rally in the northern city of Linz, organized by the local branch of the Communist Party.

Greek officers used flash grenades to disperse violent protesters in Athens after attacks on banks and traffic cameras. No arrests or injuries were reported, but transport strikes disrupted bus, train and ferry services as well as flights by Greek carrier Olympic Airlines.

It was the first May Day since the advent of the global financial crisis, and Russia police were out in force as Communists and liberals gathered to criticize the government. Moscow police said four leftists were detained after trying to light flares near the Kremlin. Dozens were reportedly detained in St. Petersburg.

In Moscow, several thousand Communist supporters gathered near a statue of Karl Marx and called for the government to resign, accusing it of ignoring the needs of everyday Russians and mismanaging the economy.

Workers march in May Day demonstrations around the world: here.

The Haymarket frame-up and the origins of May Day: here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

6 thoughts on “May Day report, Europe, USA, elsewhere

  1. European Workers for Improvements

    Escrito por Ana Luisa Brown

    viernes, 01 de mayo de 2009

    01 de mayo de 2009, 12:20Imagen activaBerlin, May 1 (Prensa Latina) Thousands of European workers took to the streets Friday demanding for better salaries, worthy working conditions and stopping mass dismissal amidst hardships caused by the global economic crisis in the region. The German Trade Unions demanded the government to put end to a process in which workers have been taken off from their jobs massively while the Banks executives used the financial aid to increase their salaries.

    Riot forces charged with car to launch water to the youngsters participating in the protests in a traditional atmosphere during the International Workers day in Europe.

    The police arrested at least 12 people while over 20 were wounded, noted the German TV, after clashed between police agents and 200 demonstrators.

    Local press media echoed the demonstrations in Istanbul where hundreds people tried to reach Taksim central zone.

    The police used tear gasses and other means to stop the march of demonstrators among which there are dozens of people arrested.

    The demonstrations demanding better salaries, worthy and permanent job as well as the end of mass layoff took place in France, Spain, Italy and other European nations.


  2. Recession fires worldwide May Day rallies


    Published: Friday May 1, 2009

    Police in Germany, Turkey and Greece clashed with demonstrators on Friday as worldwide hundreds of thousands of people angered and worried by the global recession took to the streets for Labour Day.

    In Germany, on course for its biggest slump since World War II, Berlin police made 49 arrests as young demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks and set fire to cars and rubbish bins in the early hours.

    Around 200 far-right extremists later attacked with sticks and stones a rally organised by trade unions in the western city of Dortmund, as well as police, who dispersed the skinheads with truncheons and took 150 into custody.

    Some 484,000 people gathered for peaceful May Day rallies across Germany, unions said, but police were bracing for more pitched battles after nightfall with — and between — far-left and far-right groups.

    In Turkey, security forces fired tear gas and water cannon in clashes with hundreds of May Day demonstrators in Istanbul that left dozens of people hurt.

    Demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs at police and smashed the windows of banks and boutiques in the centre of Turkey’s biggest city. In Ankara, about 100 demonstrators also clashed with police, the Anatolia news agency reported.

    Istanbul governor Mehmet Guler said 21 policemen and 20 demonstrators were slightly hurt and 108 mainly young people were arrested in the clashes.

    Several thousand union and left-wing activists took part in the annual protest, chanting “hand in hand against fascism”, “repression won’t stop us” and “long live the revolution and socialism”.

    Violence was also reported in Greece, with youths hurling Molotov cocktails and vandalising security cameras before being dispersed by police in Athens as thousands demonstrated across the country.

    Elsewhere, rallies were mostly peaceful, with organisers everywhere promising to highlight public anger over the crippling recession which has seen millions lose their jobs.

    In France more than 300 demonstrations nationwide began more of less peacefully, although the arrival of more than 1,000 black-hooded anarchists held the promise of later trouble.

    The leaders of France’s eight main unions — presenting a united front for the first time since World War II — linked arms to lead a rally in Paris.

    “It’s a party atmosphere, but all the same it has to make an impression. Gathering together like his helps us a lot, even psychologically,” said Juan Rodriguez, 33, as he marched in Compiegne, just north of Paris.

    Unions had predicted that Friday would see the biggest Labour Day turnout in decades. Organisers of the Paris march said that by mid-afternoon they estimated 160,000 people were taking part — up from 30,000 last year.

    This was far less, however than the 350,000 who marched on March 19 in the second of the nationwide protests so far this year against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the recession.

    In Spain, where the government expects nearly one in five workers to be out of a job next year, the worst unemployment rate in Europe, tens of thousands turned out across the country including over 10,000 in the capital Madrid.

    In Tokyo, some 36,000 people rallied in Yoyogi park, demanding more welfare benefits and others protesting military spending, with many more youths and people in their 20s joining the event than in recent years.

    In South Korea, some 8,000 workers and students rallied in a Seoul park urging an end to lay-offs and wage cuts caused by the crisis. There were also rallies in Manila, the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and Taipei.

    In Russia, about 2,000 demonstrators gathered by a statue of Karl Marx in Moscow waving banners and red Soviet flags and calling for a return of communism.

    In Russia’s second city Saint Petersburg, birthplace of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, police arrested about 120 members far right militants armed with knives and knuckle dusters, police said.

    And in Italy, leaders of the main unions held their rally at the town of L’Aquila in a show of solidarity after the devastating earthquake there last month which killed nearly 300 people.

    Meanwhile in Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a May Day rally the unity government is broke and cannot afford to match union demands for higher salaries.

    Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has threatened to go on strike unless wages are increased radically.


  3. May 2, 10:51 AM EDT

    Pa. jury: Immigrant’s beating death no hate crime

    Associated Press Writer

    POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Prosecutors called the beating death of an illegal immigrant from Mexico a hate crime, and they urged an all-white jury in Pennsylvania coal country to punish two white teenagers for their roles in the attack.

    Instead, the jury found the teens innocent of all serious charges, a decision that elicited cheers and claps from the defendants’ families and friends – and cries of outrage from the victim’s.

    Brandon Piekarsky, 17, was acquitted of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, while Derrick Donchak, 19, was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Both were convicted of simple assault late Friday following a trial in which jurors were left to sort out the facts of an epithet-filled brawl that pitted popular football players against a 25-year-old Hispanic man, Luis Ramirez, who appeared willing to fight.

    A representative of Ramirez’s family said the jurors got it wrong.

    “There’s been a complete failure of justice,” said Gladys Limon, staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who attended the trial and informed Ramirez’s family of the verdict. “It’s just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt.”

    On Saturday the group’s interim president, Henry Solano, called on the Justice Department to “bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated.” Piekarsky’s attorney declined comment on the possibility of federal charges against the teens.

    Prosecutors had cast Ramirez as the victim of a gang of drunken white teens motivated by a dislike of their small coal town’s burgeoning Hispanic population. But the jury evidently sided with defense attorneys, who called Ramirez the aggressor and characterized the brawl as a street fight that ended tragically.

    Jury foreman Eric Macklin said he sympathized with Ramirez’s loved ones but that the evidence pointed to an acquittal.

    “I feel bad for Luis’s friends and family. I know they feel they haven’t gotten justice,” he said.

    The simple assault convictions carry possible one- to two-year prison sentences. Donchak was also convicted of corruption of minors and an alcohol charge, both stemming from his purchase of beer and malt liquor that he drank with his underage friends the night of the fight. Sentencing has not been scheduled.

    The case exposed ethnic tensions in Shenandoah, a blue-collar town of 5,000 that has lured Hispanic residents drawn by cheap housing and jobs in nearby factories and farm fields. Ramirez moved to the town about seven years ago from Iramuco, Mexico, working in a factory and picking strawberries and cherries.

    The 2000 U.S. Census showed that Schuylkill County’s population was 96.6 percent white, with 1.1 percent of the county listed as Hispanic or Latino.

    The fight began late July 12 when a half-dozen teens, all Shenandoah residents who played football at Shenandoah Valley High School, were walking home from a block party and came across Ramirez and his 15-year-old girlfriend in a park.

    Brian Scully, 18, asked the girl, “Isn’t it a little late for you to be out?” That enraged Ramirez, who began yelling in Spanish and dialing friends on his cell phone. Scully admitted to shouting ethnic slurs. The verbal sparring soon turned into a physical altercation as Ramirez and Piekarsky traded blows, though prosecutors and defense attorneys disputed who threw the first punch.

    Donchak then entered the fray and wound up on top of Ramirez. Prosecutors said he pummeled Ramirez, holding a small piece of metal in his fist to give his punches more power. Defense attorneys said Donchak tried to break up the fight between Piekarsky and Ramirez and denied he had a weapon.

    The two sides eventually went their separate ways. But Scully kept yelling at Ramirez, leading the immigrant to charge after the group.

    Colin Walsh, 17, then hit Ramirez, knocking him out.


  4. May 2, 8:24 AM EDT

    Immigrants push for reforms at rallies nationwide

    Associated Press Writer

    MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of immigrants and their families marched in cities from coast to coast, hoping to channel the political muscle Hispanics flexed last fall as President Barack Obama won election. This time, they hoped to jump-start an old cause: forging a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

    Crowds were dampened in many areas though, as the swine flu scare kept numerous people home Friday. The area hardest hit by the swine flu is Mexico, also the native home of many rally participants.

    In Miami, more than 300 minority rights activists joined with union officials in one of the first local immigration rallies to be endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Participants waved signs for immigration reform in Spanish, English and Creole. They also sought temporary protection for the state’s large community of Haitian immigrants, whose native island has been devastated in recent years by hurricanes and floods.

    They chanted “W-I N-O-U K-A-P-A-B,” Creole for “Yes We Can.”

    In Colorado, a march was planned Saturday in Greeley, a rural town 60 miles north of Denver, and the site of a 2006 federal raid at a meatpacking plant, in which 261 undocumented workers were detained.

    “We wanted to make the undocumented workers the protagonists, to give them a voice,” said one Greeley organizer, Alonzo Barron Ortiz.

    Activists’ hopes have been buoyed by Obama’s election and a Democratic-controlled Congress, in part because they believe the Hispanic vote, about two-thirds of which went to Obama, helped flip key battleground states such as Colorado and New Mexico. Many Hispanics strongly back comprehensive immigration reform – and believe Obama owes them for their support.

    On Friday, thousands attended events in Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Denver, Chicago, New York and other cities. They said a sizable role played by immigrants in the economy merits immigration reform.

    “If we don’t have the conversation, the economy isn’t going to get any better,” said Sergio Inocenzio, a 48-year-old juice plant worker who marched in Yakima, Wash., and has lived in the United States his entire life. “We’re not here to take anything. We’re here to work.”

    Organizers had hoped crowds would equal or exceed those of last year, which was down from 2006 when a stringent immigration bill poised to pass in Congress drew large-scale protests. But early reports suggested turnout was far lower than in previous years.

    In Chicago, organizers had expected about 15,000 participants, but the crowd appeared much smaller.

    In Newark, N.J., about 225 marchers paused outside the federal immigration building during a rally. “Say Reform, Not Raids” read signs in the crowd.

    Stella Okereke, a Nigerian immigrant, said the marches weren’t just about Hispanics. “It is for all of us, for Africans, for Americans for Haitians, for anybody who has felt a pinch of injustice, and that’s why we are here, to support that immigration reform be done now,” Okereke said.

    The rally in New York City drew a diverse crowd that included Chinese, Ecuadoreans, Mexicans, Salvadorans and Pakistanis. Among them stood a smattering of those who oppose immigration reform.

    And one of the largest gatherings assembled outside the White House, where more than 2,000 people rallied to call for change in immigration policy.

    The White House announced this week that it would refocus its resources on prosecuting employers who hire illegal immigrants. And a Senate Judiciary subcommittee took up immigration this week for the first time in the new Congress.

    Associated Press Writers Herbert G. McCann in Chicago, Kamala Lane in Washington, D.C., Adam Goldman in New York, Ivan Moreno in Denver, Amy Taxin in Los Angeles and Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.


  5. Pingback: May Day workers’ demonstrations, London, etc. | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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