May 1, 2012 / 12:14 PM / 8 years ago

May Day protests seek to rejuvenate Occupy movement

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Occupy Wall Street will join labor groups for a day of protests on Tuesday to mark International Workers Day and to try to breathe fresh life into the movement that sparked a wave of nationwide protests against economic injustice eight months ago.

Scheduled actions ranged from a “pop-up encampment” in a New York City park to a promise to “occupy” San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

A text message alert broadcast late Monday from an Occupy Wall Street address said: “All civilians stand by for GENERAL STRIKE at 08:00. No Work, School, or Shopping. All out in the streets!”

Activities were set to kick off early in New York at Bryant Park in midtown, where protesters plan to set up an encampment emblematic of the movement’s early days in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park near the Wall Street financial district.

But, as a light morning rain fell on the city, the park was largely empty, populated by a handful of police officers and half a dozen maintenance workers in yellow rain slickers who were emptying trash cans. About a dozen people milled about at a pair of coffee kiosks at the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, just outside the park.

Across the street, the new Bank of America tower was encircled by steel crowd control barricades and police were stationed at each the building’s entrances. The building is one of six bank locations protesters planned to target Tuesday.

Later, activists planned to join organized labor for a march starting at Union Square. Some in New York have vowed to disrupt commuter traffic, but Occupy said it would not take part.

In California, Occupy Oakland has called for protesters to “occupy” the Golden Gate Bridge in a show of solidarity with bridge workers engaged in a contract dispute over wages and benefits.

Police in New York declined to say if any unusual security precautions were planned, but the city’s financial community was making preparations. At the Deutsche Bank building in lower Manhattan, the atrium used for much of the winter as an Occupy meeting spot will be closed to the public on May 1.


Inspired by the pro-democracy Arab Spring, the Wall Street protesters last year targeted U.S. financial policies they blamed for the yawning income gap between rich and poor - between what they called the 1 percent and the 99 percent.

“We have to show the 1 percent what democracy looks like,” said Joycelyn Gill-Campbell, an outreach coordinator with Domestic Workers United. “The domestic workers take care of their children, their homes, and they’re treated like less than human beings.”

Scott Sommer, the New York Area Regional Director of United Auto Workers, called May Day a “historic moment” that brought together labor, immigrant and student groups, as well as Occupy Wall Street, under the common banner of pushing for an “agenda of economic fairness.”

“This isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon,” he said.

Still, it was unclear whether the event will spell Occupy’s resurgence after winter hiatus.

In New York, the Occupy movement lost significant momentum in November when a pre-dawn sweep broke up the encampment at Zuccotti Park. Occupy protests in Oakland, California, in January led to police firing tear gas into crowds of protesters and more than 200 people were arrested.

Since last fall, when scores of demonstrators set up a vigil in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and Occupy boasted it had $500,000 in the bank, donations have slowed to a point where Occupy was left in a cash crunch earlier this year.

In recent weeks, small groups of New York protesters have taken to camping out in different locations, including across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.

Additional reporting By Dan Burns and Jennifer Marostica; Editing by Doina Chiacu

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below