First Hand Account of May Day NYC: Community First, Protest Second
By Margarita Rosario
Spectators stood in awe of the celebrations of unity and solidarity that extended from Bryant Park to the tip of New York Island yesterday, May 1st 2012. A powerful string of declarations were chanted by the participants in Occupy Wall Street’s May Day. New Yorkers peeked outside their windows and cars to see the spectacle. A clear estimation for the number of protestors is incalculable but the some protestors claimed an astonishing 50,000, while many news outlets declare the number to be only a few thousands.
May Day has maintained its name in history as a day of general protest, usually for causes such as workers rights, women’s rights, and the negative effects of war. As I entered Bryant Park at 12:00PM I was blatantly unaware of what I was going into. Packs of people were gathered at each point of the park, each with their own agenda. A group of guitarists was getting ready to march to Madison Park, a distressed man was yelling “If you hate China, Fuck You” into a crowd, and the rest of us were just having a good old time setting up stencils and posters for our 28 New-York-Block march to Union Square.
Chants such as “The People United Will Never be Defeated”, and “Show Me What Democracy Looks Like? This is What Democracy Looks Like,” engulfed the streets of New York. People from all over the city and a dedicated bunch from New Brunswick cheered on this grand event. By 3:00PM, our group had merged with an even larger group at Union Square to witness the concert that was about to take place. My camera was unfortunately dodged out of my attention as I happily drowned into a sea of enthusiasts singing “This land is Your Land” with guitarist Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. The following acts included a Brooklyn based Latin-Jazz group and the legendary Immortal Technique. The concert was closed with a walk-through of a ritual called “Mic-Check”, the way that large Occupy groups have come to communicate, so that they rest of the march would go smoothly.
By 9PM, we had reached the outskirts of Wall Street, only to find that the area had been shut down by guards before we got there. A few arrests and outburst followed, occurrences that have seemed to be the main focus of other news outlets. For the people that were there, however, the day of May 1st was anything but chaotic. In fact, it was a clear reminder that we are a community of people with akin views and that our numbers have grown and will keep growing.