Occupy May Day

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The labor holiday May Day has its origins in the US but is more widely-celebrated around the world. Today, Occupy Wall Street is calling for a day of action and a general strike. We check in on the day's events, the state of Occupy, and the history of May Day with:

Plus, your calls. Are you striking today? What do you make of the state of Occupy? What's the role of May Day here compared to the rest of the world?

    Comments [58]

    cmk from Yorktown

    Hey Bernie: A note of support. These OWS types (Sheldon et al) are completely naive to how to actually change things. Riding the 7 train dressed like a nut or blocking working people (the 99% though I think less than that that work, others are on the public dole already)isn't going to change how banking works or how the politicians behave. Want to protest? Go protest outside your representative's office. Get a job, work for the guy running against the s.o.b's that bailed out the bank. Don't block my way to getting to my job because you (OWS) have nothing better to do with your time and perceive yourself some liberationist.
    Say what you want about tea party types but they had a message (less government, don't tread on me) and they did something about it: they ran for office, they took their plans to DC.
    OWS: if you think you're helping anyone by having a party in the park and calling yourself a "movement" -- take a hard look. You're accomplishing nothing but annoying the rest of us.
    And OWS folks: remember what Margaret Thatcher said "the problem with socialism is sooner or later you run out of someone else's money."

    May. 01 2012 01:25 PM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    Oh - Bernie, you are so right. Go ahead with your routine - accept your fate that the world is supposed to be run by certain people. I hope your coffee doesn't get too cold - god forbid.

    May. 01 2012 12:37 PM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    I expect the OWS neo-commies are thoroughly infiltrated by the NYPD.

    Monitored within the crowd.

    Social Media makes it easy to monitor OWS plans. And photographing OWS miscreants and hooligans helps the NYPD responds appropriately.

    May. 01 2012 11:58 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    Michael, I'm familiar with those sites and that advice. This is not the outreach I'm speaking of, that I think is lacking with OWS...True about NYPD tho...We shall see...

    May. 01 2012 11:57 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    ok, this is my last attempt at debating w/ you sheldon.
    first of all, all of your funny little quotes are not mine so don't put words in my mouth.
    you're obviously a cloudy thinker combined w/ being stubborn and shortsighted- a bad combination.
    you're not understanding my point and the point of other working people- we are willing to get out there and protest and be "inconvenienced" as you say, but not for this "movement" as it's misdirected.
    you can't compare birmingham, egypt, etc....each issue has it's own dynamic and it's own way of coming to a just end. for example, do you think if MLK was NOT non-violent that he would've had the impact he had? it's what he did but it's also HOW he did it. he was able to change the system because of HOW he did it.
    do you think there's a possibility that you could understand something like that?

    May. 01 2012 11:53 AM

    No doubt, many are in this same camp of being scared of being harassed and arrested for dubious reasons. I would not blame Occupy for this -- on their site (which I was just looking at) they in fact state pretty clearly that if you participate you are putting yourself at risk of arrest. And they offer advice for mitigating that, and knowing your rights, and how to deal with different situations that may arise, etc. The problem is that law-abiding folks are being arrested for nonsense charges, and that is enough to scare many people off (which is indeed, their whole strategy, whether they admit it or not.) It is the NYPD and Bloomberg that needs to address this issue, regarding why assembly may lead to arrest, not OWS.

    May. 01 2012 11:49 AM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    "i'm like every other blue collar worker in this city. if i miss work i don't get paid. if i miss a couple hours of work i don't get paid for those hours"

    Bernie - I can take that comment and drop it into 1960's Birmingham - before the bus boycott, Egypt in 2011 - there are always people like you, who are scared of change, less it messes with your routine.

    Yes - you are a true working man Bernie, "you don't let no clueless college kid that needs a shower" speak for you - troublemakers - what do those trust fund marxist idiots know anyway. Don't they know that you'd rather suffer and grumble about being screwed by the system - you'll never do anything about it, less you have nothing to be a "victim" of. Afterall - that's what makes you blue collar.

    May. 01 2012 11:41 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    I wonder why there are no Occupy movements in

    - Bejing
    - Havana
    - Moscow
    - Pyongyang
    - Gaza
    - Tehran
    - Damascus

    Would it be "counter revolutionary"? And could possibly happen to "counter revolutionary" people living under those regimes?

    May. 01 2012 11:35 AM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    Amen Fuva - thanks. Can so called "working people" like Bernie wait to see what happens before making these "yessar, bosser" "don't be causin' no problems for us now" comments?

    May. 01 2012 11:20 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    oh sheldon...."Oh, I being inconvenienced" "Oh, I can't cross the street to buy my panini at au bon pain" "oh they are too loud" "Oh, they smell" "Oh, why are they making trouble for the rest of us"

    If you can't get off your fat, lazy butt to go out there - fine, I can't either but please save your self-absorbed nonsense for when they actually start throwing bricks through coffee shops.

    you have no idea who i am and how i'm like every other blue collar worker in this city. if i miss work i don't get paid. if i miss a couple hours of work i don't get paid for those hours. i have children that i'm responsible to feed and clothe etc. and every dollar i lose is a dollar they lose. i work my "fat,lazy butt" off all day, everyday. do you?
    i'm exhausted, killing myself and the last thing i need is comments from the fantasy world you live in or a bunch of hacky sack playing, entitled, "anarchists" making my day any harder than it already is. you have no idea, obviously

    May. 01 2012 11:19 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    Michael, your hesitancy to participate is no doubt shared by masses of workers. And quixotic Occupy doesn't address these very real and practical concerns because the mobilization strategy is lacking, and it is more out of touch with the masses than it realizes.

    May. 01 2012 11:17 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    "Yes, BERNIE, this "Occupy Movement" needs better organization and strategy. Constructively criticize THAT, as it is needed. "

    that's exactly what i'm doing!!! if the "movement" wasn't misdirected they'd be able to get blue collar workers like me in this country behind them, but anyone who really works for a living and is struggling to keep the lights on will reject this "movement".
    we need to pressure politicians to vote for OUR interests not goldman sachs etc....

    May. 01 2012 11:14 AM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    Bernie, I may not be the brightest person in the world, of course we all know that you are - but basically you just repeated, far less concisely what I said about the banks - they stole our money (via lobbyists, via politicians, via whatever) because they can, and they do so because of attitudes like yours. You don't agree with OWS politics - fine but don't give me this:

    "Oh, I being inconvenienced" "Oh, I can't cross the street to buy my panini at au bon pain" "oh they are too loud" "Oh, they smell" "Oh, why are they making trouble for the rest of us"

    If you can't get off your fat, lazy butt to go out there - fine, I can't either but please save your self-absorbed nonsense for when they actually start throwing bricks through coffee shops.

    May. 01 2012 11:09 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    Yes, BERNIE, this "Occupy Movement" needs better organization and strategy. Constructively criticize THAT, as it is needed.
    But your posts come off as categorically dismissive of the need for modern day collective worker action -- action that just might incur some modicum of "inconvenience" for a greater good. Of course, for a worker in this current economy, this is self-defeatingly shortsighted.

    May. 01 2012 11:08 AM

    I honestly very badly want to participate in this, but I'm aware of the fact that I *may* have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid parking ticket 5 years ago. I do not want to risk an extremely time consuming and expensive encounter with the police, because the NYPD has made it abundantly clear that just by assembling at all you are fair game. I'm sure that there are many more in this camp too for similar reasons. Maybe calling this thuggary is a bit harsh but if not that, how else do you describe the NYPD?

    May. 01 2012 11:00 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    @SHELDON- you're obviously not the brightest person in the world so i'll put it simply for you think bank of america just stuck their corporate hand into the revenue collected by the IRS and took out what they needed to bail themselves out? do you understand how and why the banks took the bailout money? it all comes down to campaign financing and how and why politicians do what they do with our tax $. they need $ to get elected, lobbyists get them that $ in exchange for votes for their causes/corporate interests. this is what created the atmosphere that allowed the banks to destroy the world economy.
    goldman sachs is an evil corporation. they hurt us everyday but occupying the 7 train in a flamenco dress will do NOTHING to change the behavior of goldman sachs and they are laughing their evil heads off right now watching this misdirected attempt at changing the system. protesting just for the sake of protesting is a waste of energy.
    and a working person not happy about missing a day of work and a days' pay is not childish. you're part of the problem, not the solution.

    May. 01 2012 10:50 AM
    Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

    I'd bet that most of the OWS bums who "occupied" Zuccotti Park do NOT have any jobs.

    May. 01 2012 10:49 AM
    Amy Heller from Harrington Park, NJ

    Hey, just want to let folks know that there is an Occupy movement in Bergen County, NJ. Check us out at and/or come to our next meeting at the Teaneck Ethical Culture Society on May 15 at 7:30! (687 Larch Avenue, Teaneck)

    May. 01 2012 10:37 AM
    jgarbuz from Queens

    "Occupied Suburbia?? Suburbia itself is the vast occupation of good farmland, former "indian" lands! Getting rid of suburbs and restoring them to farmland would go a long way in solving AMerica's debt and energy problems.

    May. 01 2012 10:37 AM
    Nick from UWS

    The protest movement of the computer generation, with the same ADD non-effectiveness of people who spend their whole day with their face in an iPhone or computer, surfing from site to email to site to Facebook, and accomplishing nothing.

    May. 01 2012 10:37 AM
    John A.

    Celebrate the day that was once set aside for peaceful expansion in thought, where work was shunned. The sabbath day, that is.
    I lived for 10 years in work-slavery where sunday work could be called for at any time, so I know the value of that free day much better now.

    May. 01 2012 10:35 AM
    Elle from Brooklyn

    Seriously? People are actually taking their kids out of school?

    May. 01 2012 10:34 AM
    Nick from UWS

    "I'm taking the day off work, taking my kids out of schools, and we're going to Bryant Park to PROTEST!" WTF?

    May. 01 2012 10:33 AM
    jgarbuz from Queens

    Anyone who took an introductory college level course in American history has at least heard of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, even if we (myself included) no longer remember the details of what happened. The more you learn, the more you realize there isn't really very much new under the sun, and that while times may change, people really don't.

    May. 01 2012 10:32 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    Oh, Sheldon, right ON.
    But keep the faith...

    May. 01 2012 10:30 AM
    Sheldon from Brooklyn

    Yes Bernie, you are being childish. Big banks didn't mind "inconveniencing" you by stealing your tax money with those bailouts.

    That's why working people in this country are treated like dogs, and why they deserve to be...

    May. 01 2012 10:27 AM
    Marco from New York

    Riding a subway train all day while dressed in a flamenco dress perfectly illustrates the fatuousness of this movement.

    May. 01 2012 10:25 AM
    Sue from Manhattan

    Join today's 5:30 PM Tenants General Assembly with OWS in front of Cooper Union's Great Hall where the Rent Guidelines Board will be holding its preliminary vote. 7 E. 7th St. @ 3rd Ave.- tenants can tell their stories.

    May. 01 2012 10:24 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    I mean, many WNYC listeners don't even know how many blocked "bridges, tunnels, roadways, subways" it took to get weekends, an 8-hour work day, etc...

    May. 01 2012 10:24 AM
    Jay F.

    Didn't one of your guests stay in a $400/night hotel room while protesters slept in tents in Zuccotti Park?

    May. 01 2012 10:24 AM
    Nick from UWS

    Do these people have any idea how completely childish they sound? All this yak about what they're going to do, all their "protest" actions, and not one mention of WHAT THEY WANT. WHAT DO THEY WANT TO HAPPEN? SPECIFICALLY. WHAT IS THEIR MESSAGE?

    In the '60s, there was no uncertainty about what the message was. Stop the war. Civil rights for minorities. This occupy nonsense gives no impression of a message other than "join our club and be a pain in the ass."

    May. 01 2012 10:24 AM

    This is groovy show

    May. 01 2012 10:23 AM
    Jeff Park Slope

    Suggestion: do your listeners a service and devote your show to a Chicago school economist; someone that will be able to explain in layman terms that people such as your listeners will understand why all forms of socialism reduce freedom and reduce wealth for everyone except the ruling elite and will lead to totalitarian solutions if not checked. I would guess that very few of your regular listeners have ever been exposed to this area as presented by an advocate as opposed to an opponent. The show should allow ample time for listeners to call in with questions. I am sure that most of your listeners still think that communism has never yet been tried; that Cuba and China and the USSR and N. Korea were never actually communist. An economist will be able to explain why socialism is inherently freedom reducing and when the structure of the society is communist, then the society must be totalitarian. How about it?

    May. 01 2012 10:23 AM
    Milo from Bushwick NY

    I think Hector's description of the occupy/protest/performance art demonstration on the #7 train sounds RAD! #7 is the best! Power to the people!

    May. 01 2012 10:21 AM

    My daughter wanted to get a croissant for her lunch today. I rxplained today was a holiday where we celebrate freedom from consumption resulting from marketing and advertising. In order to honor this we should not buy anything. She actually said that when I put it that way it made sense.

    However, we did get a croissant but from the park slope food coop. That felt kosher.

    Other than that though, we will not be purchasing anything today. Refraining from shopping is a way to demonstrate. Which is a trip bc my in email box has been flooded with online sales today. Ie-JetBlue 'mystery' sale where tickets must be purchased today.

    May. 01 2012 10:21 AM
    cmk from Yorktown

    Seriously: can't anyone with an ounce of sense think the Occupy movement is more than a party of a bunch of people with apparently, nothing else to do. And teh 99% who go to work are childish. And transportation (and healthcare and everything else) should be "free." Really?

    May. 01 2012 10:20 AM
    Nancy Cadet from OWS workers world

    Yes for Workers Day! I announced last week that my college classes were cancelled today for a "day of reflection or action," and posted the listing of May Day NYC 2012 activities on our classes' websites . I will be participating in rallies and pickets myself and the Unity rally and march starting at Union Square. Students are free to do or not do what they wish during that class hour.....

    Re NYPD. They do suppress and threaten/injure/ menace protesters (as they did during the RNC convention) with sweeps, physical assaults, surveillance and arresting protesters for legal free speech .

    One of my college students lost two front teeth and got two black eyes in the fall at an OWS protest, having had his face slammed into the sidewalk by an officer. I referred him to the National Lawyers Guild for legal representation .he s still active in OWS and still in my class, persuading other students to open their minds to new ideas and activism.

    May. 01 2012 10:20 AM
    C.J. from Washington Heights

    Will the guests denounce the NON-PEACEFUL smashing of windows at the hands of Occupy San Francisco? Or are they not affiliated at all? I support the cause, so long as it is peaceful.

    May. 01 2012 10:19 AM
    Robert from NYC

    Look, i can't but would want to join OWS today because I have a radiation treatment to got to have and these exhaust me with my chemo I'm drained. But if I could I would certainly be there. Look folks this is for us, FOR US ALL, so get out there IF YOU CAN. IF you can't then don't go but don't knock it, DON"T KNOCK IT. IT's for us all. IT must become effective and these people must pay for their crimes on Wall Street and big corporations who have taken control of our governments federal and local. Support this OWS however you can but SUPPORT IT!!

    May. 01 2012 10:18 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    i'm childish? having to go to work everyday to feed and clothe my family is childish? i would love to know the personal history of these 2 people....i'm gonna venture a guess and say that daddy is supporting them.
    jeez, if they did this right it could really be something to reckon with....but it's not....the banks and bankers will keep behaving this way for eternity until the system is changed and that comes from the lobbyists direct access to our political leaders. plain and simple. get down to DC and don't clog up my city.
    childish! would love for you to say that to me in person

    May. 01 2012 10:17 AM
    Will from Queens

    Everyone saw this coming, as soon as the weather turned milder these fools decide to "occupy"...believe it or not people have to work to live, and walking out of your job is a sure fired way to lose for not hindering those of us that move around the city, every demonstration is an annoyance, every barricade that goes up hinders, in addition to ringing up thousands of man/overtime hours for the nypd.

    May. 01 2012 10:17 AM
    A. M. from Brooklyn

    Brian, did you actually say that Jessee is "one of the intellectual FATHERS of the Occupy movement"? Speaking of misnomers... How about "founders" or, if you must use metaphors of breeding, "parents"? How can either the movement or you profess to support or report meaningful change when you both continue the misnaming "sins of the fathers," such as assuming that every leader--every human--is a male? For shame.

    May. 01 2012 10:17 AM

    "intellectual father" of the occupy movement. That's a laugh. These people could sound a little more professional for their radio appearance.

    May. 01 2012 10:16 AM

    @Elle he did...nothing will rock his world

    May. 01 2012 10:15 AM
    Evin from Astoria

    In my opinion the occupy movement has squandered all the good will that it generated when it began in the Fall. I would never strike in support of a movement that since the new year has been characterized more by disorganization and petty vandalism than by a well articulated and/or executed vision of the future. A "general strike" is just as vague as this whole movement has felt of recent, which I imagine is appropriate in some way.

    May. 01 2012 10:15 AM
    fuva from Harlemworld

    Oh, numbers don't matter? Convenient...I know many, many workers who don't know what May Day is, who don't understand the historical or present day importance of collective worker action and who'd anyway be afraid to do so...There's not enough information activism going on. And that is slactivism, which won't prevail.

    May. 01 2012 10:14 AM
    ann in NYC from Manhattan

    Just spent an hour with protesters in front of NYU Bobst Library, where 100-200 faculty, students and neighbors supported union workers and protested against the massive NYU expansion plan and huge NYU student debt.

    May. 01 2012 10:12 AM
    Robert from NYC

    hahahaha lol in your parakeets cage. Good idea, next time my toilet break down I will have need to buy, finally, and use a NYTimes beneficially. Never did understand what it was for!!

    May. 01 2012 10:12 AM
    Elle from Brooklyn

    "Childish"? Did he really just say "childish"?

    May. 01 2012 10:12 AM

    Ron Paul is running on issues that OWS should be on board with...don't let MSM tell you other wise

    May. 01 2012 10:12 AM
    Elle from Brooklyn

    I be of you - NO MORE! I think I'll go listen to WQXR for a while.

    May. 01 2012 10:11 AM
    Michael from Manhattan

    Mr. Lehrer, I suggest you be a little more resourceful about determining the extent of May Day activities than just going by what the AP says. There are all kinds of Twitter feeds that provide a much more comprehensive account of what's going on out there. Try @johnknefel, @allisonkilkenny or @Newyorkist. They often provide photo documentation too.

    May. 01 2012 10:11 AM
    Jay F.


    May. 01 2012 10:11 AM
    Ed from Larchmont

    It's also the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, May 1st.

    May. 01 2012 10:11 AM
    Sara from Bushwick

    Can you talk about the early morning raids and arrests at OWS organizers apartments early yesterday morning?

    May. 01 2012 10:10 AM
    john from office

    Brian, if nothing happens, please report that.

    I am trying to figure out how annoying working people is a form of protest.

    May. 01 2012 10:08 AM
    bernie from bklyn

    dear OWS protesters-
    do your thing, but absolutely do not interfere with means of travel for working people who can't afford to join you today. for some, missing 1 day of work is devastating for a struggling family and if you guys make their life even more difficult then you are doing a disservice to your cause. blocking bridges, tunnels, roadways, subways is moronic and will turn the tide of your support from real working people in nyc. take heed.

    May. 01 2012 10:07 AM
    Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

    I strongly support the demand of OWS that *something be done*. It’s telling that OWS social issues follow much the same narrative as the old political economic movements, though, focusing on the social values of decision makers. That doesn’t actually agree with the recent big advances in natural science.

    The developing view of natural science is also ignored by the mainstream policy community, too, and the press generally as well, of course. What the science is saying is the problems we face are due to well intended, but deeply misunderstood, choices about natural systems,… **that create the appearance of social bias rather than follow from it**.

    So everyone’s attraction to complaining about social bias becomes a real barrier to asking the right questions, is my takeaway.

    May. 01 2012 10:03 AM

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