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News ::
The Workers' Struggle: May Day Around the World
03 May 2002
A history of May Day, and summary coverage of May Day events throughout the world.



People throughout the world took to the streets on May 1st for May Day, an international holiday which celebrates the workers' struggle. On May 1st, 1886, more than 350,000 workers across the country joined a national strike to demand an eight-hour workday. Two days later, police fired into a crowd of strikers at McCormick Reaper Works Factory in Chicago , killing four and wounding many. The next day, when police attempted to disperse a peaceful rally in Haymarket Square, a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one and injuring seventy. Police responded by firing into the crowd, killing one worker and injuring many others.

Although it was never determined who threw the bomb, the incident was used to attack the entire Left and labor movements. Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight were charged with conspiracy to murder. They were found guilty despite a lack of evidence. Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer, and George Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison. The remaining three were finally pardoned in 1893.

In 1889, the Socialist International declared May 1st a day of demonstrations, and May Day protests have been held annually worldwide since 1890. Many countries officially recognize May Day as a holiday, but the United States Congress chose to instead have a workers' holiday in early September, to avoid association with the "subversive" May Day.

History of May Day -
Photos from around the world


some of this year's May Day events:


Chicago: Local activists organized a weekend of resistance, which culminated Sunday with a Carnival Against Capitalism. Events during the weekend included Chicago's largest-ever Critical Mass bike ride, workshops, parties, and protests. Photos.

London, United Kingdom: Despite expectations of widespread violence,
May Day events were peaceful, with only 12 arrests throughout the day. Several thousand people filled the streets of London, including more than 500 at a Critical Mass Bike Ride. Photos. Also today, a solidarity breakfast was held outside of the Horsferry Road Magistrates Court in support of the Womble 7, who are facing trial after being attacked by police last Halloween. Photos.



Boston: Today was the first day of Festival del Pueblo, an anti-capitalist celebration of resistance, community, and freedom. Several hundred protesters took part in a Revolutionary May Day March. More events are planned through Sunday.
Melbourne, Australia: The day began with a blockade of the Department of Immigration in protest of the governments' treatment of asylum seekers, showing the link between human rights and workers' rights. Thousands took part in a trade union march later in the day. Photos.
Seoul, South Korea: More than 10,000 protesters gathered to demand that the government introduce a five-day work week and withdraw its privatization plan for state-run industries.
Athens, Greece: Several thousand protesters from labor unions, left-wing organizations and immigrant rights groups marched to the United States and Israeli embassies to protest Israeli attacks against Palestinians.

San Francisco: A festive May Day Eve Reclaim the Streets took an ugly turn, as police arrested at least three participants. Photos.
France: More than a million people demonstrated peacefully throughout the country against Jean-Marie Le Pen, the extreme-right leader who qualified for Sunday's presidential runoff. Photos.
See also:
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