In spite of those images of young girls in white frocks trailing ribbons around a pole, May Day actually began as a gritty anarchists' holiday in 1886. At that time, union organizers, meatpackers and shoemakers in Chicago were agitating for an eight-hour workday. Meeting on May 1st at Haymarket Square in downtown Chicago, speakers whipped a crowd of about 3000 workers into a frenzy.
At one point, someone threw a bomb into a group of police. In the ensuing riot, a dozen people were killed. Ultimately, eight anarchists were tried, convicted, and hung.
Since then, May Day has periodically come and gone from its original intention as a time to commemorate workers' rights and employees' demands. This year, with Portland's economy limping through its third year of lousy employment rates, May Day has taken on more importance than ever, and has stretched out to an entire weekend of events, lectures, and protests.
Thursday, May Day parade. Three years ago, May Day returned with a vengeance when police clashed with marchers and the parade became more about police brutality than laborers' rights. But this year, the local carpenters' union has taken over the reins and promise to keep this event about the workers. (South Park Blocks, SW Couch and Park, speeches at 2:30 pm, march at 4:30 pm)
Friday, the Film Center kicks off an Anarchist Film Festival with An Injury to One, a captivating documentary about a brutal turn-of-the-century union drive by miners in Montana. The festival runs through May 18. (The Guild, SW 9th and Taylor, see Movie Times, page 44)
Saturday. Helping to define the nexus between corporate interests and war-mongering, local union organizers are hosting a buffet and lecture. All proceeds benefit Freedom Socialist newspaper. (Bread and Roses Center, 819 N. Killingsworth, 7 pm)
Sunday. To keep up with the mounting news about the unemployed and the homeless, streetroots is double timing to a bi-monthly production schedule (up from once a month). Tonight inaugurates their expansion and serves as a benefit for the paper. Music from Stars of Track and Field and The Upright Dub Orchestra. Also, trailers from a still-in-production documentary about Dignity Village will be screened. (Berbati's, 10 SW Third, 5-10 pm, sliding scale) PB