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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What's Been Missing from May Day Coverage So Far

Posted by on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 8:10 PM

  • Ansel Herz

The media has been obsessing over the idea that anarchists might wreak havoc (read: break some windows) on May Day. Conversely, I have yet to see substantial reporting of the actual demands being made by the vast majority of people who took to the streets today. Puget Sound Business Journal was typical, noting that a colorful, family-friendly immigrant and workers' rights march took place only as background for the more important point: "no shattered glass."

"I think it's a huge shame," Rahwa Habte, an organizer with the immigrant rights group One America, told me as the march descended down King Street in the International District. "[The property damage] happened for a short amount of time and was pretty contained, but it cast a huge cloud over all of May Day last year. And that cloud has now extended into this year."

In 2012, the downtown smashup happened early in the day and attracted a lot of police attention, deterring a lot of immigrants from marching, Habte said. But not this year. The afternoon march began at Judkins Park and wove its way downtown, taking up two to three city blocks and probably about 2,000 strong.

Make no mistake: Anarchists have no monopoly on passionate calls for transformative change. Judging by the signs, banners, and chants, key demands include an immediate halt to deportations and family separations, and a legalization process for the 12 million undocumented people who've emigrated here.

  • Ansel Herz

These demands date back to the historic marches for comprehensive immigration reform that swept across the country in 2006—some of the largest demonstrations ever, in many cities. In Seattle, about 5,000 people were expected that year. At least 15,000 people turned out.

"This seems like it is the year for comprehensive immigration reform to happen," Habte explained. "So this is a glimmer of hope for the folks that I work with and know, who are being impacted right now by our broken immigration system. Not only the faster it happens, but the better the bill is, it's really going to make a huge difference in people's lives and communities."

Of course, May Day is also known as International Workers Day, dating back to 1886 when labor activists went on strike for the eight-hour work day and a group of anarchists were hanged. At the march today, I was impressed by the sheer variety of groups present, many of them holding their own banners. Among them were Seattle Solidarity Network and Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE), which grew out of Occupy Seattle. Both groups are anarchism-inspired and work to empower ordinary people against those higher up in the class hierarchy—bosses, landlords, and banks.

  • Ansel Herz

These are the types of anarchists doing community organizing, week in and week out, based on the values of mutual aid and solidarity. Local reporters who make the tired and intellectually lazy joke that "anarchists organizing themselves is an oxymoron, ha!" really should just STFU.

Among the many other groups represented at the march today: Physicians for a National Health Program, SEIU, Teamsters, Native Americans, Anakbayan Seattle, Latino Liberation Movement, Local 1789 AFT Seattle from community colleges, Who You Callin' Illegal? and of course, El Comite.

  • Ansel Herz

Anarchists-versus-police should be far from the main story here. The message from the big march today was that America ought to be a lot more fair to immigrants and workers. Let's not lose sight of that.


Comments (14) RSS

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what a cute little girl; I support her parents in their fight for the right to someday weed my ornamentals and detail my bathroom tile.
Posted by carsten coolage on May 1, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
maybe if she studies and works hard she'll be able to afford her own slave one day.
Posted by carsten coolage on May 1, 2013 at 8:31 PM · Report this
Er, what do you mean when you say The Media have been ignoring immigrant rights protests in favor of snarking about anarchists?

A skim of Google News tells me that the media has been covering immigrant rights protests rather well, and largely ignoring anarchist non-events.

But The Stranger has certainly given over most of its coverage to all things anarchismist. Perhaps your fellow Stranger staffers are who you had in mind when you typed The Media up there?
Posted by robotslave on May 1, 2013 at 8:35 PM · Report this
@3: Not really. I'm referring more to the non-stop fear-mongering of the local networks, which I wrote about on Monday, plus the Seattle Times. Read this week's paper. Kiley's cover story is the opposite - a smart, nuanced take on these issues.
Posted by Guest Author on May 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM · Report this
Elvis 5
Great coverage, Ansel. This is the story that needs to be told the most on May 1st.
Posted by Elvis on May 1, 2013 at 9:19 PM · Report this
Thank you! I wholeheartedly agree with @5.
Posted by Dod on May 1, 2013 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 7
As I look around, I really have to question the definition of "immigrants". No, I'm not opening up the settled-usage of illegal or legal.

But I really don't see many of the people who moved here from other countries as immigrants. To me they appear more as colonists.

Native tongue and dress is retained and religions which are cloistered. Social and school activities. Many live in nearby residences, tightening the circle.

Yes, these groups from Mexico, the Ukraine, Punjab. They've not so much come to be part of America as to establish settlements...a link between two worlds.

I think the Tsarnaevs and their close relatives illustrate it. Some get deeply integrated. Others reject US and go home. In the middle are people who float back and forth between the motherland and the settlement.

It's like the early days of North America for them. Setting up colonies. Flying their old flags, maybe transforming into the new. Or not.

Is it good or bad? America is a global nexus. These could be good when it works. Or go very wrong, when someone like a young man, doesn't understand the game.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on May 1, 2013 at 9:44 PM · Report this
Great article! Except writing on the Slog tarnishes your reputation. Remember when Dan Savage wrote a front page editorial in favor the invasion of Iraq? Weird, I know.
Posted by Nat King on May 2, 2013 at 12:15 AM · Report this
@7 Are you really unaware that immigration in America has ever been thus?

Things as quintessentially American as "cheese-heads" have their roots in the German colonies in Wisconsin.

If you're not nodding along and thinking of the Irish of Boston, or some such, you're hopeless.
Posted by How Can You Rule Shit You Know So Little About? on May 2, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this
@8: Is your argument that I should write for an obscure partisan publication that meets your standard of ideological purity? Or that all writers at a given media outlet should have the same opinions? Both ideas are incredibly stupid, I'm afraid.
Posted by Guest Author on May 2, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
Kiley's "cover story" is just shilling for assholes and vandalism. No wonder you're an unpaid intern. Your analysis is woefully shallow.
Posted by hypocrites on May 2, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
the link for Who You Callin Illegal is broken.
It is here:
Posted by Who You Callin' Illegal on May 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Thank you for spreading the word about Who You Callin' Illegal!
The link to the website is broken on the post.
Please link to
Posted by Who You Callin' Illegal on May 2, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Yea Seattle Solidarity Network!
Posted by blackflags on May 3, 2013 at 3:19 AM · Report this

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