‘General strike’ to hit the US on May First

In more than 100 cities from Washington State to the District of Columbia, protesters are orchestrating a massive country-wide demonstration on Tuesday, May 1, and their plans call for what could be the biggest event of its like in recent memory.

In locales like New York City, San Francisco, California and at least 100 cities in between, thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets on Tuesday for a national day of protest. Originating out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, what began as just a gathering of a few like-minded individuals in Lower Manhattan last year has spawned protests from coast to coast and in cities and countries across the world. Now nearly seven months after OWS first took hold in New York’s Zuccotti Park, occupiers across the nation and even abroad will be assembling on May 1 for a massive general strike being advertised as “a day without the 99 percent.”

Although the Occupy movement is one that lacks any formal leadership, OccupyWallStreet.org has acted as a major source of OWS-related bulletins since the protests took hold in September. On the site this week, the webmasters call for protesters to avoid attending both work and school and call for demonstrators to avoid making purchases as well.

“While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in US history,” reads a message posted on the front-page of the website. “Building on the international celebration of May Day, past General Strikes in US cities like Seattle and Oakland, the recent May 1st Day Without An Immigrant demonstrations, the national general strikes in Spain this year, and the on-going student strike in Quebec, the Occupy Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012. This in and of itself is a tremendous victory. For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 US cities will stand together for economic justice.”

In New York City, demonstrators are scheduled to begin as early as 8 a.m. and other events are planned throughout the course of the day across America. In Manhattan protesters are planning to picket outside establishments managed by the elite 1 percent, including Chase Bank, the New York Times and the office of investment banker Stephen Berger. Elsewhere in the Big Apple will be workshops led by guitarist Tom Morello, teach-ins and, in Brooklyn organizers will be hosting a “Building Community Alternatives to Capitalism Day.”

Other events are slated across to occur across the US, and though they will all involve rallying for greater equality for all, some have been more specific about what they want to accomplish.

“We’re marching for the struggle for human dignity and respect,” Maribel Peralez explains to the lake Stevens Journal in the state of Washington. In regards to Tuesday’s planned strike in Seattle, Peralez adds, “We’re not anticipating any form of violence at all during the march; it is completely peaceful. We’re trying to address workers’ rights and human rights.”

If history is any precedent, however, things might get rowdy as the day turns to night.

Events are schedules in cities such as New York and Oakland, where protests during the last few months of the Occupy movement have more than once ended in massive arrests and, in some instances, violent encounters between law enforcement and civilians. During the dawn of OWS, some 700 demonstrators were cuffed by law enforcement while engaged in a peaceful protests on the Brooklyn Bridge. As the movement has spread in the months since, however, several large events have ended in bloodshed.

Addressing a question on how the New York Police Department is preparing for a city-wide strike and a series of protests, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the media over the weekend that the city’s law enforcement agency is ready to act appropriately.

“They don’t have a right to disrupt other people and keep other people from protesting or just going about their business, and we will do as we normally do — find the right balance,” warned the mayor, reports the New York Times.

Off the streets, a similar protest may be waged not on the roads of the US but on the information superhighway. Hacktivists with the group Anonymous have asked for Americans to protest on Tuesday against the CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act that passed the House of Representatives last week.

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