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Today Marks the Thirty-Fifth Anniversary of MayDay!
May 1, 2006 8:17 AM   Subscribe

MAYDAY. The largest and most audacious civil disobedience action in American history is also the least remembered yet it had a profound affect on the development of tactics for practicing civil disobedience in the United States. MayDay! was perhaps the only essentially peaceful action, at least in modern times, undertaken with the intent to shut down the federal government . The slogan, early on at least, was "If the government won't stop the war, we'll stop the government! Thanks to Wikipedia, at least there is something easily accessible about it. And, with the advent of blogging, other thoughtful pieces are appearing.
posted by swlabr (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
You could have maybe posted this as a comment in the other May Day thread?
posted by Plutor at 8:27 AM on May 1, 2006


I think each of the three posts are slightly different. This is on the protests, the second is on the holiday, and the third is on the event in Minnesota.
posted by j-urb at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2006


"It was universally panned as the worst planned, worst executed, most slovenly, strident and obnoxious peace action ever committed."
posted by Miko at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2006


"LBJ, Pull Out Now, Like Your Father Should Have Done."

Oh, man.
posted by Miko at 8:36 AM on May 1, 2006


I could have, but that thread about an annual event important in the history of the Labor Movement. This thread is about MayDay!, a one-time anti-war action.

For that matter, the civil disobedience at MayDay! didn't commence until Monday, May 3, 1971; with May 1 being the first day of the Gathering of the Tribes for music in Rock Creek Park, with civil-disobedience training on May 2.
posted by swlabr at 8:36 AM on May 1, 2006


Sorry to keep commenting, but I keep finding more interesting stuff attached. The "we'll stop the government" link is a page of Quaker House, an interesting site about an anti-war organization that outreaches to active military. I hadn't heard of them.

This reminds me of the "Who Would Jesus Kill?" signs in NY on Saturday. This poster could make a comeback right now, too. This interesting document could be written today by many a soldier's spouse. Check out this Escher-inspired comment on "phased withdrawal."

Wait...what decade is it again?
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on May 1, 2006


Ooops! Make that West Potomac Park, as recounted in this interesting history of the event in the Georgetown University newspaper.
posted by swlabr at 8:45 AM on May 1, 2006


Damn good linking, swlabr. I thought I was well-informed about the Viet Nam era protests. This one I'd never read about.
posted by Miko at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2006


That "phased withdrawal" poster is great! Oh bring back the people's art!
posted by swlabr at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2006


This is very interesting...thank you!
posted by airgirl at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2006


In Puerto Rico, government shuts down you!
posted by furtive at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2006


This is a great post! I wish the author of the first link wasn't being paid by the word though (8990 of them).
posted by Chuckles at 9:41 AM on May 1, 2006


Is it really the least remembered act of civil disobedience in history?

I mean, I sort of scowled at a cop once when I was 13, and that doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.
posted by Simon! at 11:19 AM on May 1, 2006


I'm sure it's remembered by the 7000 of us who were slammed into the calaboose that day!

As comprehensive as the article was, I was disappointed to find no mention of the fact that Nixon suspended the writ of Habeus Corpus . . . the only other prez who did that was Lincoln during the civil war.

Another great story from that week was the congressman who had his audience arrested and hauled away as he was addressing them, at the Lincoln Memorial, a day or two after the major arrests. He sued and won with the contention that you don't have freedom of speech if the gubmint takes away who you're speaking to!

Thanks for the link swlabr!
posted by ahimsakid at 11:48 AM on May 1, 2006


Nixon suspended the writ of Habeus Corpus . . . the only other prez who did that was Lincoln during the civil war.

Seems like what's been happening down in Gauntanamo Bay, but in the absence of formal suspension.
posted by Miko at 12:59 PM on May 1, 2006


Is it really the least remembered act of civil disobedience in history?

I remember it well, being an old fart who was there. Most of the afternoon I sat in a house at 22nd and F St. NW, watching out the window as small groups of people pulled stuff (garbage cans, newspaper boxes, trash) out into the middle of the intersection and ran away, then people wearing uniforms came by and dragged the stuff back to the curb. Rinse, repeat.

I had been scared earlier that morning when my girlfriend said, "I have to go to the bank," and we were headed that way, turned a corner, and saw a broad line of masked, helmeted police filling the entire street, coming at us. Most had shields and batons, others were firing tear gas guns — at which point we ran into a nearby building on the George Washington University campus. And (figuring no one in riot gear would want to climb stairs) kept going on up to the third floor, to watch out the window as they came by grabbing people.

"When you get attacked for going to the bank," I said, "the country is in serious trouble." I didn't realize at the time, of course, that being arrested would have been something I could brag about years later.

It was universally panned as the worst planned, worst executed, most slovenly, strident and obnoxious peace action ever committed.

It did seem pretty stupid at the time. The 1969 Moratorium in D.C. was much, much friendlier.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2006


RE: Habeus Corpus: Seems like what's been happening down in Guantanamo Bay, but in the absence of formal suspension.
Yes, many contend that Bush has also assumed that perogative. Also, per Wikipedia, President Grant suspended habeas corpus in nine counties in South Carolina, as part of federal civil rights action against the Ku Klux Klan under the 1870 Force Act and 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.

So I'm wrong again!
posted by ahimsakid at 1:46 PM on May 1, 2006


Seems like what's been happening down in Gauntanamo Bay, but in the absence of formal suspension.
posted by Miko at 12:59 PM PST on May 1 [!]


I'm sure there is a signing statement somewhere....

Wait...what decade is it again?
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM PST on May 1 [!]


The same decade where when you have strife, you have oppertunity. The oppertunity is to eat at the public slop trough. Just say you are providing service VS The Terror and its all good.

I'm awaiting the 'tax the war profiteers' posters and slogans.

"When you get attacked for going to the bank," I said, "the country is in serious trouble."

Sounds like something that happens like 'driving while black'. Oh for such simple problems! Or that's what Americans will be saying in a few years.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:51 PM on May 1, 2006


My friend Andrew organized a May Day protest, of sorts. I went, took photos, posted it all on my blog. Andrew is intelligent, well spoken, organized, and looks like a member of ZZ Top.
posted by neek at 4:26 AM on May 2, 2006


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