This year, anarchist and autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial groups held May Day events, actions, and celebrations around the world, including across so-called North America. Different from past years, many groups opted to organize their own events with separate coalitions, rather than piggy backing off of larger events organized by labor unions and leftist/Marxist-Leninist groups.
Many of these events were BBQs or social gatherings in public parks, which drew large turnouts. In cities like Montreal, mass marches were organized by anarchists and groups like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), while in other large cities like Portland, Seattle, and Oakland, night-time demonstrations were attacked by the police. Participants also used May Day to highlights ongoing struggles: against ICE, mass incarceration, ongoing labor struggles, the housing crisis and so on. In Brooklyn, members of the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM) organized a a car caravan in support of upcoming anti-prison actions.
Many reported that these actions and events helped to create a friendly social environment that allowed people the chance to come together face to face – in some instances, the first time since the pandemic began, while sharing ideas and meeting new friends. Happy May Day!
2021 May Day Roundup
Seattle, WA: March organized against the ongoing genocide in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is violently repressed by police; arrests made. For more background on the #TigrayCantWait campaign, check out this report from the Indigenous Anarchist Federation:
Since November, Ethiopian federal and allied military forces have carried out a genocidal campaign of political repression in the Tigray region. Indiscriminate bombings, mass executions, rape as a tool of war. Food supplies devastated adding starvation to the arsenal. Refugees are prevented from fleeing these horrors. Communications and outside aid have been cut off.
Outside the region, Tigrayan people have faced escalating discrimination and violence due to their ethnicity. They have lost jobs and had passports canceled. Social media is filled with a cocktail of propaganda standard for modern genocidal regimes: open government hate propaganda mixes cleanly with legions of unquestioning supporters and puppet account networks.
Responding to calls from Tigrayans and other groups facing violent repression from the Ethiopian state, a decentralized, global effort is underway to stop this genocidal conflict. This means building real solidarity, beyond borders and nations.
We must also dismantle the Ethiopian state’s ability to wage this war. One way is to cut into the state’s biggest source of direct funding and foreign currency revenue: coffee. A major buyer around the globe is Starbucks. The corporation regularly engages in direct negotiations with the Ethiopian state, whose direct control of trademark licensing and access to markets puts millions into the government’s coffers. Those in solidarity around the world must take action to cut off this flow while the genocide continues.
— Seattle Black Anarcho Coalition (@black_anarcho) May 2, 2021
Portland, OR: Anarchists and autonomous groups organized a large scale zine (short for magazine; small booklet) festival that many report was a smashing success and brought young and old together in a low-key social setting. Later that night, street demonstrations were organized against ICE. Graffiti was also written on various Starbucks storefronts in solidarity with the campaign against genocide in Ethiopia.
Went to the May Day zine fest at Penisular Park in PDX with my dog, Banjo, and the cutie @GriffinMalone6 this afternoon. There was a huge turnout and look at all this amazing stuff I got! 🥰🥰🥰
Reminded me of why I love this community so much. pic.twitter.com/1mCnVPfvY2
— Grace Morgan (@gravemorgan) May 1, 2021
Managed to sneak a pic of the zine selection before they were all gobbled up today!! pic.twitter.com/h4tM8cvpWD
— 1312press (@1312press) May 2, 2021
May Day demonstrations in Portland, Oregon
An “Abolish ICE” rally outside an ICE facility pic.twitter.com/sBP25GdaG0
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) May 1, 2021
A group of about 70 Anarchist protestors are marching through downtown Portland breaking windows of businesses.
Portland police have declared a riot. pic.twitter.com/dZRoyBoorF
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) May 2, 2021
@Starbucks was hit last night in St John’s. They are aiding the #TigrayGenocide as a major buyer of Ethiopian coffee. People are demanding @Starbucks stop buying to cut into the funds that fuel their genocide.https://t.co/8Y92x7xFtf pic.twitter.com/3OTJWQRSHN
— John – Full Rev Media (@Johnnthelefty) May 2, 2021
Eugene, OR: May Day celebration with food and zine tables was organized by various autonomous groups.
Oakland, CA: Multiple May Day events, rallies, and actions were held throughout the bay area. In Oakland, autonomous anti-capitalists and anarchists organized a march on a vacant home owned by Neill Sullivan, head of a real estate development company that has bought up a massive mount of Oakland’s housing stock and been central to the gentrification of the bay area. A rally was organized outside an empty home in West Oakland and a block party was organized, encouraging people to take over vacant homes as a solution to the bay area’s housing crisis. For background information on Sullivan, and the role of corporate real estate in the gentrification of the bay area, go here.
Later that night, a march was organized, however it faced steep police repression.
According to a post on Indybay.org, a communique also claimed responsibility for:
In the small hours of the morning May 2nd, in commemoration and solidarity with the people’s movements celebrated every May Day, a group of autonomous individuals stole away to attack the fulcrums of capital accumulation in Oakland. Nine houses held empty by the predatory corporate landlord and speculator Neill Sullivan through Sullivan Management Company were attacked, cracked, repainted with the people’s messages, marked for the violent force they are. This is a direct, unaffiliated, partisan attack on SMC and the entire corporate landlord, property-owning, ruling class: there is no place for you in our community!
As long as these houses are not functioning as shelter or materiel resource for those who need them most, we must disable and disarm them as weapons of extraction and poker chips for the rich in their apocalyptic games.
These are the barracks of a ghostly occupying force, houses haunted by the specter of a gentry yet to arrive, mausoleums of a future of misery already immanent in the present, but that we refuse. We instead choose to bring the pain to bourgeois property directly, attacking their points of accumulation by dispossession. We refuse to allow speculators masquerading as landlords masquerading as agents of “community revitalization” to parasitize our city, and we reject them all.
Read the full communique here.
— Indybay (@Indybay) May 2, 2021
This 4-bedroom home was owned by a Black family for decades, until the foreclosure crisis in 2008. SMC owns it now, scooped it up for ~$100k, extracted ~$700k through reverse mortgage type schemes, and its been sitting here empty. Until today!#HousetheBay #IfItsVacantTakeIt pic.twitter.com/4odWlGUNq8
— Indybay (@Indybay) May 1, 2021
Long Beach, CA: Anti-ICE banner drop.
Reno, NV: Zine tables are set up for May Day.
hey yall. we’re at the circle @ Wingfield park. pic.twitter.com/tgihgBjMYV
— Truckee Meadows John Brown Gun Club (@TMJBGC) May 1, 2021
Indigenous Action reports:
On May Day 2021, an anti-authoritarian and anti-colonial assembly was held to gather, share, and build solidarity in occupied lands of so-called Flagstaff. The assembly addressed the crisis of MMIWG2ST, state repression and police violence, unsheltered relative support, and mutual aid. What follows is a purposefully brief and incomplete report back.
The assembly was held at a small neighborhood park near the site where Kyle Garcia was murdered by “Flagstaff” pigs in 2006. The wind whipped banners reading “Justice for Nicole Joe,” “Colonization is a Plague,” “Fascism isn’t to be debated, it is to be smashed,” and the community favorite, “Fuck the Police.” Zines about black bloc tactics, decolonization, and other relevant topics were occasionally scattered by strong gusts. A persn dressed in a pig masked with radical patches handed out squeaky pig toys. Their high pitched “oinking” would randomly intervene in the overall serious tone of the event.
Folks throughout the region from so-called Page, Gallup, and Phoenix were present. From each of the areas, it was clear that frustrations with (white) liberal tendencies and radical co-optations necessitates further autonomous organizing and fierce anti-colonial approaches towards collective liberation.
For a full report back, see Indigenous Action on Instagram.
Denton, TX: May Day festival featuring food, speakers, mutual aid tables, and various organizations was organized.
Thank y’all so much for today. For your help, for your donations, for your friendships, for your passion, we are grateful. Big shoutouts to these groups and their members for making today a success. @DentonLeft @NTRR4yall @ntxiww @CooperationdTX@SRA_DFW pic.twitter.com/mSMQ3C5Jwp
— Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club (@EFJBGC) May 2, 2021
Butte, MN: Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and other groups held a memorial at the grave of IWW organizer, Frank Little, who was murdered for his radical labor organizing in 1917.
The Bozeman IWW was joined by the Missoula branch as well as members from both the DSA and SRA to honor Frank Little’s life today for May Day! pic.twitter.com/26qCbEzVYD
— BozemanIWW (@BozemanIww) May 1, 2021
Detroit, MI: IWW hosted a May Day celebration in a local park.
Cleveland, OH: Anarchist and autonomous groups organized a large BBQ in Cleveland that featured food, zine tables, and speakers. Riot police staged near-by, but did not interfere with the event.
Great turnout at autonomous #MayDay BBQ in #Cleveland that featured speakers, tabling, and lots of great food! Here’s a memorial marking many of the martyrs that were killed during the #GeorgeFloyd uprising by the far-Right vigilantes, and police + National Guard. pic.twitter.com/Noj5upAuvh
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) May 3, 2021
Here’s our banner and the flyer we were passing out for May Day. pic.twitter.com/m90d0iVsSL
— Burning River Anarchist Collective (@Burning_River) May 2, 2021
Cincinnati, OH: May Day event featuring mutual aid and zine tables.
we’ll be out today from 1-6pm for the weekly survival distro with our houseless neighbors, come say hello and score some free May Day oriented zines/books! 🏴🔥
— cincy mutual aid/zine distro (@AidCincinnati) May 1, 2021
Rockford, IN: May Day celebration and gathering featuring zine tables, food, and speakers.
We had a great May Day. Too busy enjoying it to be on social media. We had a number of comrades from Rockford and other cities in attendance. Thanks to everyone for coming out! pic.twitter.com/4WvckkMLAE
— 815 Mutual Aid Network (@mutualaid815) May 2, 2021
Chicago, IL: Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Chicago held a variety of actions and events which included a picket outside of a store engaging in union busting that IWW members work at. People also held a commemoration event outside of the Haymarket Martyrs memorial. Hundreds of people also took part in a labor march “against cops and bosses.”
Come out to the Dill Pickle and join the picket line if you’re around. We got layoffs of 1/3 the employees, retaliation, & failure to adhere to a legally binding CBA. Management must adhere to the contract or sink the co-op. What side are u on?
WHAT’S DISGUSTING? UNION BUSTING! pic.twitter.com/W9dlA2lJqA
— Greater Chicago IWW (@Chicago_IWW) May 1, 2021
Solidarity forever to all our friends and comrades from the south side of Chicago who came out to our march Against Cops And Bosses! @uchicagogsu@care_not_cops @TenantsUnitedHP @LTBcoalition @expstationunion @Chicago_IWW @ChicagoCityDSA pic.twitter.com/cYLqEjC3Hr
— UofC Labor Council ✊🏽✊🏿✊🏾 Black Lives Matter (@UCLaborCouncil) May 2, 2021
Some abolitionist and labor zines at Powderhorn Park pic.twitter.com/ByeYM6EH1W
— Abolition now (@UrsulaMPLS) May 1, 2021
May Day at 38th and Chicago! Ignore propaganda, see for yourself: GFS is at the epicenter of a social justice movement. Organized labor recognizes this and joined us while we continue to use the collective power and presence of the people to demand justice. #nojusticenostreets pic.twitter.com/lvJf9hb07L
— marciahoward38thstreet (@marciaxthree) May 3, 2021
Tulsa, OK: May Day celebration with mutual aid, zine tables, and community discussion.
Cooperation Tulsa, along with @scissortailbde and @greencountrydsa, will be co-hosting a socially distanced solidarity event at Veteran’s Park, this May Day! We hope to see the community turn out so that we can discuss methods for expanding mutual aid and dual power! pic.twitter.com/ScG6hkra7j
— Cooperation Tulsa (@CoopTulsaOK) April 27, 2021
Lexington, KY: Banner drop against displacement of trailer park residents to make way for strip mall.
Spotted in Lexington outside Keeneland race track this Derby Day!
“Patrick Madden (who turned his family horse wealth into a development empire) is evicting a whole community”
— Justice 4 North Fork (@ForkJustice) May 1, 2021
Miami, FL: May Day celebration organized with various anarchist and autonomous anti-capitalist groups featuring free food and zine tables. Far-Right trolls attempted to intimidate the group, but it continued without incident.
A coalition of autonomous groups in #Miami organized a #MayDay celebration featuring free food and info tables that over 50 people came out for, despite a far-Right/Trump presence that attempted to intimidate people. pic.twitter.com/XCKAKfAAjg
— It’s Going Down (@IGD_News) May 3, 2021
Durham, NC: May Day celebration featuring workshops, a cookout, and zine tables was organized.
Asheville, NC: May Day celebration featuring food, open mic, and zine tables was organized.
We’re out here tabling the mayday combo open mic///potluck!
Gotta say, burning tshirts literally ripped off of nazi’s backs has a smell that takes ya right back… pic.twitter.com/poUMSam2mw
— HellbenderAVL (@HellbenderAVL) May 2, 2021
Elizabeth City, NC: People continued to take to the streets following the police murder of Andrew Brown, Jr and in the face of an ongoing curfew by the city and a new draconian rule that demonstrators must apply for permits to protest that requires the consent and approval of the city manager.
— 🚩🐶Andrea Of The Anti-Fascist Variety✊🐘🏴 (@PAWGsForBernie) May 1, 2021
West Virginia: West Virginia IWW held a teach-in about militant coal miner resistance in Appalachia. View the video and presentation here.
Join our @BatesMuckian at 8 PM on 5/1/2021 on the West Virginia IWW GMB page for Black Coal Red Necks, a presentation about West Virginia’s militant past as part of West Virginia IWW’s celebration of May Day! pic.twitter.com/TgEMqMwpRP
— West Virginia IWW (@WestVirginiaIWW) April 27, 2021
Washington DC: Tabling at larger May Day events took place. Also a raffle was held to support prison rebels. Later in the evening, a noise demo march was organized outside of the local jail. Food Not Bombs also organized a mutual aid event with free food.
We will be raffling off these two boards by incarcerated FW Zuniga at tomo’s May Day event in Malcolm X. Look for us 12-5pm, tickets $5 / 5 for $20; PLS write your # on the back- we will text the winner between 4-5pm. Happy International Worker’s Day 🚩🏴@DC_IWW @iww @IWW_IWOC pic.twitter.com/vfMuYraZbE
— Shift Change DC (@shiftchange_dc) April 30, 2021
“Tell me, who protects me from you”
— J Dilla
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) May 2, 2021
Pittsburgh, PA: A May Day celebration with mutual aid and zine tables was organized.
Rochester, NY: Food Not Bombs organized a “meet and greet” food drive at a local farmer’s market.
Source: Rochester Food Not Bombs
Brooklyn, NY: A letter writing to political prisoners event was held at the anarchist social center, The Base. The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM) also organized a car caravan to bring attention to upcoming #ShutEmDown demonstrations called by prison rebels later in the year.
Montreal: Thousands of marchers took to the streets as part of rallies organized by anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, and anti-capitalists.
Mass march organized by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Source: Facebook
Mass march organized by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Source: Facebook
The anti-capitalist #mayday21 protest in #montreal put on by @CLACMontreal left Jarry park around 16h30 and snaked through the streets between Little Italy and park-ex. Large police presence. Several windows smashed, tear gas deployed on St-Laurent and at least one arrest. pic.twitter.com/80RCMr48Y7
— Zachary Kamel (@ZacharyKamel) May 1, 2021
Outside of marches organized by the IWW and other anarcho-syndicalist groups, another large march was organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC). Report from Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC):
More than 750 people gathered to denounce the exacerbation of social injustice and precariousness during the current pandemic. Capitalism and neo-liberalism have laid the foundations for this disaster and it is certainly not through this economic system that we will get out of the crisis. The organizers would like to thank the participants of the demonstration who took to the streets this year, despite the health crisis, with masks and distancing measures.
As part of the International Workers’ Day, CLAC organized today the annual May Day anti-capitalist demonstration, which started at 4PM in Jarry Park. Last year, due to the health situation, there was no rally, but we did call for a day of visibility actions, which was a great success.
This year, we went to protest in the Mile-Ex to denounce the artificial intelligence companies that are shamelessly taking advantage of the crisis, converting public subsidies into tools for the private sector. The companies located there are a major force in the gentrification and displacement of the residents of Parc-Extension in addition of participating in the technological surveillance proliferation.
In addition, the tightening of borders and the abuse of immigration authorities are on a mission to preserve these inequalities. Migrants who were “lucky” enough to come here are dying in our hospitals and warehouses. The streets of the poorest neighborhoods are empty, as the police are always looking for their next victims. The First Peoples are being humiliated, assaulted and killed by the governmental bodies driven by the extractivist companies. And in all this chaos, we are forced to obey, to remain silent, to be blind to everything that is happening around us. It is absurd and revolting!
We don’t want the world they are trying to sell us! No old normal, no new normal ! Let’s abolish capitalism!
Anti-capitalist May Day protest is underway in Montreal, Quebec.
The Montreal police tweeted 20 minutes ago that a dispersal operation was underway for this protest. pic.twitter.com/QBi0Qw0von
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) May 1, 2021
I’m on the scene where Anti-capitalist May Day protesters vandalized an artificial intelligence research business in Montreal, Quebec.
Police tell me that the vandalizes were from the International Workers’ Day protest that assembled in Parc Jarry earlier today. pic.twitter.com/62ktqbWYIi
— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) May 1, 2021
Mexico City: Various groups participate in mass marches and protests.
On International Workers Day, La Brigada Callejera & solidarity organizations marched through working class neighborhoods in Mexico City. Autonomous sex workers are demanding an end to violence, repression & harassment from the police, organized crime & the government! ✊🏿🖤❤️👠 pic.twitter.com/aTAKq9aJ7t
— Voices in Movement (@VIM_Media) May 3, 2021