Occupying Mayday: Marching, Music, Musement (with pictures)

On Mayday, I was in the parks and streets of Manhattan for #M1GS, the May 1st General Strike, a daylong gathering called by a coalition of dozens of labor organizations. Like many, I was there under many motivations: as a participant in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Faith NYC, as a member of the labor union and advocacy organization the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and as a theologian. I joined tens of thousands in New York City and around the country and around the world, workers of all kinds, labor union members, Occupiers, community organizers, seasoned activists, first-time participants, and all manner of allies who cheered us on from the sidewalks, fire escapes, and opened windows in the tall buildings along the march route.

There were apparently a few dozen arrests, though I did not personally see any over the course of seven hours. (Nor could I afford to get too close if things got too hot, because I needed to be free to teach the next day.) I arrived in the early afternoon at Bryant Park to find a thousand or so people getting warmed up with teach-ins, leafletting, conversations, sign-making, and picture-taking. There were also dozens of people carrying guitars (and a few basses and banjos), rehearsing for the Occupy Guitarmy, an all-volunteer guitar ensemble led by renowned rock guitarist Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine and now The Nightwatchman. I was concerned because I thought that a thousand or so people would be a poor turnout for such a hyped-up event as this General Strike. But things changed quickly.


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Stanley Kopacz
6 years ago
How much economic knowledge does it take to see the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagal protections as desirable?  How much economic knowledge does it take to realize that the generation and bundling of bad debt and selling it to others as a good deal is fraud?  How much knowledge does it take to know that when you buy airline tickets from Lufthansa's american office and you're charged a currency conversion fee that you're getting, well, you know the word?  All the money that I can put into banks, I've put into credit unions.  Luckily, all my debts are paid for twenty years and i don't owe the banksters anything.  As for Occupy, I hope this is only the beginning.  Expect more petty inconveniences, those who fret about such things.

By the way, in the 60's, I was studying physics and didn't have the excess time to participate in demonstrations.  But looking back on it, they were mostly right as Occupy is mostly right now.. 
J Cosgrove
6 years ago
The AAUP must be doing a good job.  The average compensation for a professor at Fordham in 2009 was $176,600 a year.  Probably close to $200,000 today.  Almost in the 1% range.  When I worked at Fordham in the mid 80's, my salary was less than $30,000 a year. 


Of course tuition was much lower then.  Maybe the Occupy movement should move from Wall Street to the university campuses

Beth Cioffoletti
6 years ago
I love that a Professor of theology at a Jesuit University in America can recognize and articulate the Catholic vision of this movement.  Great photos.
Stanley Kopacz
6 years ago
30,000 is a good turnout and a good start for the warm season, but more are necessary, enough to make them afraid.
Vince Killoran
6 years ago
Indeed, higher education costs are way out of control-only the "haves" and the "have mores" can afford the upper-tier schools. Back to the 1% v. 99%

But it's not due to faculty pay (abcnews.go.com/Business/us-professors-stagnant-pay-leading-higher-tuition).

Juan Lino
6 years ago
Like Anne... I was going to stop posting comments but this one-sided post needs to be addressed.  While I am happy that Tom is in love with this group, my experience being near this mess was completely different.  On the good side, I guess it gives me an idea of what the 60s were probably like (that "utopia" that liberals love to relive!) so it's good to have the experience rather than read about it.  On the other hand, a bunch of pampered "blancitos" (or 60s leftovers) demanding for more free stuff is pathetic (IMHO).  Most importantly, for me, was the fact that this BS really inconvenienced me!  I had a hell of a time getting to the Strand bookstore and riding the trains was a real nightmare.  If you want to protest the “rich” go up to the upper East Side and let us poor people travel around with a mess!
Juan Lino
6 years ago
last sentence should read: If you want to protest the “rich” go up to the upper East Side and let us poor people travel around without a mess!

Anne Chapman
6 years ago
Juan, you and I may have at last found some common ground on at least one subject!  While the frustrations that originally prompted this movement may have found some empathy throughout the country, it is not grounded in even the slightest understanding of economics. It has sadly been coopted by many who are not at all able to propose anything solid in terms of realizable policy on which to move forward, and who seem unable to do anything about the petty anarchists who have joined them, prefer violence to peaceful protest and seem intent to highjack this movement in order to wantonly vandalize and destroy people's livelihoods.  The small businesses in many of the areas that have been ''occupied'' have suffered quite a lot and they can't afford it as well as the big banks.

p.s. Please be charitable when talking about we old folk from the 60s - not all of us were anarchists and the 60s and early 70s were most definitely not 'utopia.'' 

Juan Lino
6 years ago
Point taken Anne - I'll be nice!

Stanley - why do you think that credit unions are safer than banks? I am asking because there's a credit union bank in my neighborhood which I was going to look at but I don’t really know if it’s any safer than my current bank. 


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