Chicagoans Commemorate May Day 2014

By Emily Gray Brosious
Originally published at Gapers Block
May 2, 2014

(May Day demonstrators march through Chicago's Loop/ Photo by Emily Brosious)
(May Day demonstrators march through Chicago’s Loop/ Photo by Emily Brosious)

Hundreds took to Chicago’s streets Thursday to commemorate May Day, or International Workers Day, the world’s largest labor holiday.

Organizers with International Workers of the World (IWW) Chicago held a Black and Red Brigade Rally in Union Park, where demonstrators spoke out about the meaning of May Day and enjoyed free vegan meals served by Food Not Bombs Pilsen.

Following the rally, the group joined up with the May Day March to Stop Deportations at theHaymarket Memorial in Chicago’s Loop. Together, demonstrators marched through the city’s central business district waving flags and placards, calling attention to a collective fight for just labor and immigration practices.

“We’re calling on Chicago to stand with us on May Day,” said IWW Chicago organizer Alison Olhava, “to show bosses and landlords that they need us, we don’t need them.”

The Haymarket Memorial sculpture, dedicated in 2004, stands as a symbol of Chicago’s long tradition and contribution in the struggle for fair labor practices.

On May 4, 1886, what began as a peaceful rally of workers striking for an eight-hour workday turned violent as police tried to disperse the crowd. A bomb blast and gunfire that followed left seven police officers and at least four civilians dead; many others were wounded.

The Haymarket affair in Chicago, also known as the Haymarket Massacre or Riot, is largely considered to be the origin of International May Day observances.

“On May Day, we celebrate the victories won in the struggle for workers rights, and mourn those who gave their lives for the protections we enjoy today,” said Olhava. “The fight is far from over.”


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