Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters are calling for a “General Strike” on Tuesday, May 1, urging workers not to go to work and students to boycott classes in protest of what organizers characterize as society’s economic inequality. No unions are expected to participate in the strike, and some have talked to reporters about the fact that they weren’t consulted in OWS’s decision to announce a General Strike. Nonetheless, some elements of organized labor are expected to participate in their own customary May Day rally (which has occurred since 2004), marching from Union Square to Foley Square to Bowling Green, with speeches at either end beginning at about 4:00pm and ending by 7:00pm. The union organizers involved in that march have sought a permit for it. Details are being worked out.
The “General Strike” was initially proposed by the Los Angeles node of OWS in November 2011, endorsed by Occupy Oakland at the end of January 2012, and subsequently endorsed by the OWS New York General Assembly on
There are fissures within OWS, but a “respect for diversity of tactics,” which includes everything from peaceful protests to the kind of vandalism directed at Starbucks in April, when demonstrators tried to smash the windows at the Starbucks location at Astor Place, has been embraced by the movement.
Below is a list of events that are scheduled to be held on May 1. Although the list is comprehensive, various OWS postings have called for autonomous actions, splinter demonstrations, and flash mobs.
The General Strike is the first of several major global demonstrations that the OWS movement has played a role in planning, including demonstrations scheduled for May 12, May 15, and May 17-21.3 As such, it should be expected that organizers have emphasized the importance of turnout and will be seeking maximum media coverage.
Political fissures that are present within the OWS movement may impact the strategies of demonstrators during individual protest actions; in particular, the Wildcat March is not an officially sanctioned OWS march and may attract militant elements from inside and outside the OWS movement that may seek to directly confront law enforcement officials using barricades, riot shields, and possibly weapons such as pipes and rocks.
Although OWS organizers have publicized a large number of the marches, demonstrations, and activities that will take place throughout the day, it should be expected that “pop-up” demonstrations, splinter demonstrations, and flash mobs may occur at any time, especially during “evening actions” that are planned for 7:00pm and later.
In their planning, the OWS NYCGA has endorsed solidarity based on a “respect for a diversity of tactics,” which suggests that autonomous actions of demonstrators using Black Bloc tactics may occur at any time.