It is not murder, however, of which you have convicted me… but for anarchy, so the condemnation is—that I am an anarchist! … I say to you: I despise you. I despise your order, your laws, your force-propped authority. Hang me for it!
– Louis Lingg, Haymarket Martyr, 1886
Yesterday over 100 demonstrators attended an anti-capitalist May Day march that wound its way through the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Bank windows and an ATM were damaged during the march, which had no visible police presence for most of its route. The word “REVOLT!” was also scrawled across the walls of several corporate businesses and banks. No one was arrested and no one was hurt.
After eating some delicious free food prepared by wonderful folks of the Community Kitchen, smoke flares clouded the air with colorful plumes as the march took the streets. Winding through the CBD, flag corps and a stilt walker danced to a second-line beat among black clad anarchists, children, and Occupy New Orleans activists. The march descended on the French Quarter chanting anti-capitalist slogans and attacking symbols of exploitation.
The anti-capitalist march followed another May Day march by the stalwart Congress of Day Laborers, an organization that self-organizes and fights for the immigrant worker community. Routinely robbed of their paychecks and paid below minimum wage, these workers’ labor is regularly stolen from them, despite that they’ve been performing much of the post-Katrina reconstruction of New Orleans for the past seven years.
Yesterday saw inspiring new dynamics emerge within New Orleans’ class struggle. Not only was an increased level of solidarity shown among the different groups celebrating May Day, but an unusual occurrence took place between the police and the Anti-Capitalist March. Yesterday we saw NOPD tactics fail to control the march.
Normally NOPD tries to make crowds police themselves. Training for Mardi Gras teaches police to hang back and remain friendly during marches and parades, the idea being that they will only intervene when situations become too unruly. As people in the crowd get away with minor infractions such as smoking weed, dancing on rooftops or taking the streets unpermitted, they perceive the cops as being okay with certain behaviors, and will check themselves so as to not jeopardize the dynamic.
The Anti-Capitalist March acted outside the framework of NOPD’s crowd-control psychology by acting collectively to experiment with ways of expressing its frustrations against the ruling class. In doing so the march caught the police off-guard and has the media dumb-founded. A full 24-hours later the Times Picayune has said nothing about the Anti-Capitalist March, only making mention of the permitted march that happened earlier in the day.
The marches in New Orleans yesterday coincided with actions and marches all across the world to mark the traditional workers’ holiday that began when anarchists were targeted by the U.S. government for bombings that occurred in 1886 in Chicago against police during the movement to demand an 8-hour working day after police killed protesting workers.