May Day protests bring the 99 percent back into the streets

Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 in News

May Day protests bring the 99 percent back into the streets

PORTLAND — May Day is more than flower baskets and May poles.  It is also International Worker's Day, and this year, a worldwide general strike was predicted.  In major cities in the U.S. and around the world, major disruption occurred as stock exchanges were occupied, public transit systems abandoned, and public streets closed off.  Many merchants chose to leave their stores closed for the day.  Students refused to attend class.  Banking was disrupted.  Police fought to maintain order.

In Maine, however, things were predictably less confrontational.  A vocal group of about 60 protesters gathered at Congress Square this afternoon to celebrate May Day and workers' rights. Union leaders, college students and Occupy protesters stood atop a wooden soap box to speak about various labor issues before participating in a May pole dance.  Rachel Rumson of Occupy Maine said she was happy with the number of people who turned out.

"It's raining, it's cold, and here these folks are, with their umbrellas, to talk about the problems with corporate control of the government, and other ways that capitalism is unhealthy for the majority of people in the country," she said.  Earlier, about 20 students and faculty members turned out for an Occupy USM rally at Luther Bonney Hall.  That rally dealt with student debt and other problems in the economy that affect primarily young people. 

After discussing the history and significance of May Day, the Occupy USM protesters walked to Congress Square to meet members of Occupy Maine and the Maine AFL-CIO for the larger rally.

Co-sponsors of the Congress Square event included the Southern Maine Labor Council and the Southern Maine Workers' Center, along with Occupy Maine, Occupy USM and the Maine AFL-CIO.

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