Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Great American Boycott 2006
El Gran Paro Americano 2006

On May 1, Immigrants are calling for no work, no school, no sales, and no buying, and also to have rallies around symbols of economic trade to protest the anti-immigrant movements across the country. At the heart of this boycott is the protest of H.R. 4437.

Turn Left, Cornell's Premiers Liberal Voice explains the bill and the quandry that it puts Conservatives in:
The debate, which to this point, has involved both branches of Congress, as well as President Bush, has centered around HR 4437, a bill proposed by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) that classifies all undocumented immigrants as aggravated felons, denies such immigrants social services, permits the indefinite detention of foreigners, and criminalizes a broad list of activities aimed at helping out or working with undocumented immigrants. The bill, which also includes provisions for constructing more walls to cover one-third of the US-Mexico border, has been passed by the House of Representatives and is now being debated in the US Senate.

May 1 or May Day is know also as International Workers' Day. It is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. In most countries other than the U.S. and UK, May Day is often referred to simply as "Labor Day".

International Workers' Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois.
On May 1, 1886 (later known as May Day), labor unions organized a strike for an eight-hour work day in Chicago. The working conditions in the city were miserable, with most workers working ten to twelve hour days, often six days a week under sometimes dangerous conditions. On May 3 striking workers met near the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. plant. A fight broke out on the picket lines, and Chicago police intervened and attacked the strikers, killing two, wounding several others and sparking outrage in the city's working community.

Local anarchists distributed fliers calling for a rally at Haymarket Square, then a bustling commercial center (also called the Haymarket) near the corner of Randolph Street and Desplaines Street in what was later called Chicago's west Loop. These fliers alleged police had murdered the strikers on behalf of business interests and urged workers to seek justice. In response to the McCormick killings, August Spies published "Revenge! Workingmen to Arms!" This pamphlet urged workers to take action:

To arms we call you, to arms!
The Rally at Haymarket Square began as a peaceful event but ended in bloodshed.
The police ordered the rally to disperse and began marching in formation towards the speakers' wagon. A lit, fused bomb whistled over the heads of onlookers, landed near the police line and exploded, killing a policeman and 7 other policemen later died from their injuries. The police immediately opened fire on the crowd, injuring dozens. Many of the wounded were afraid to visit hospitals for fear of being arrested. A total of eleven people died.

The Red Scare periods ended May Day as a mass holiday in the United States, a phenomenon which can be seen as somewhat ironic given that May Day originated in Chicago.

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