May Day, 2012 (big photo gallery)

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A protester holds a Guy Fawkes masked teddy bear during May Day demonstrations in Los Angeles. Below, more photos from demonstrations around the world today (Canada, Germany, Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, and more) in support of workers' rights and economic justice.

Joe Sabia

Above, Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia took these iPad snapshots of taxi drivers and workers protesting in NYC's Greenwich Village. "These photos are on the mid to tail-end of the march," Joe tells Boing Boing, "They're on Tenth and Broadway, heading south from Union Square."

REUTERS/Jana Asenbrennerova

Ivar Diehl and his dog, Lucy, wait for a rally to begin as part of a nation-wide May Day protest in Oakland, California.

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Occupy Wall Street protesters dance around a "May Pole" in Union Square park as they demonstrate in New York City, May 1, 2012. Occupy Wall Street is joining labor groups for a day of protests on Tuesday to mark International Workers Day and to try to breathe fresh life into the movement that sparked a wave of nationwide protests against economic injustice eight months ago.

REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

The window of a Wells Fargo Bank damaged by protestors during May Day protests in Seattle today. Reuters reports that "Demonstrators, including hundreds in black masks, hoods and armed with bats also destroyed the windows of a NikeTown and an American Apparel store during one of the numerous marches throughout downtown Seattle."

REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

A police officer in riot gear emerges from the debris after shooting pepper spray at masked protestors during May Day demonstrations that went violent in downtown Seattle May 1, 2012.

REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Self proclaimed vigilante "superheroes" (L to R) Caballero, Midnight Sun and Phoenix Jones stand guard at the front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle after May Day protests went violent May 1, 2012.

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

People affiliated with the Occupy Toronto group take part in "Occupy Gardens" where they planted vegetable seeds at Queens park during May Day protests in Toronto, Canada today.

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

A protestor with a painted face argues with riot police in front of the Legislative Assembly building in San Jose, Costa Rica, on May 1, 2012.

REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

In Honduras, police officers stand guard outside the National Congress building as workers from different unions take part in a march along a street during a demonstration in Tegucigalpa.

REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez

In Colombia, riot police stand guard after being hit by paint balls from students in clashes during International Workers' Day, or May Day, at the central square of Bogota.

REUTERS/Fabian Bimme

In Hamburg, Germany, riot police stand guard in front of the Rote Flora alternative cultural center during May Day demonstrations in the Schanze district.

REUTERS/Albert Gea

A secret police officer checks a demonstrator at a checkpoint before a march on May Day in central Barcelona, Spain.

REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

The scene at Los Angeles International Airport today: more than a thousand members of SEIU United Service Workers West labor union and their supporters hold a demonstration and one-day general strike to protest working conditions and lend support to May Day demonstrations.

REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

In Cali, Colombia, a demonstrator holds a toy gun and a banner that reads "no weapons" on May 1, 2012. Below, also in the Colombian city, riot police fire a water cannon at the demonstrators during Labour Day demonstrations today.


  1. What about Phoenix Jones in Seattle ?

  2. It was/is kind of crazy in downtown Seattle today. It makes me sad that a few more violent non-protesters can take an otherwise good thing and make it terrible for everyone else. I left work early because all those police in riot gear make me nervous…

    1.  By “violent non-protestors” do you mean random idiots or police officers? (I guess saboteurs/provocateurs would qualify as both?)

      1. Both idiots and police officers I guess; blame seems to usually fall on both sides in my limited experience.

        1. You seem to be implying a few questionable things:
          1) People who break the windows of banks are not protesters
          2) People who break the windows of banks are violent
          3) People who refuse to break the windows of banks are implicitly not violent
          4) People who break the windows of banks are idiots

          Re #1, I dunno what to tell you.  Obviously the vandalism was intended as a political statement against the greed of the banks which are foreclosing on our futures.  It was also an effort to directly affect their bottom line, to make it difficult for their business to continue undisturbed.

          Re #2, violence is a slippery term, and is often re-defined to suit the intentions of anyone who wants to condemn or justify an action.  For example: the uprising in Egypt is widely held to be a beautiful example of non-violent revolution.  The Egyptians involved threw rocks at the police, forcefully pushed police out of the square, and burned very many police cars and police stations.  All that was considered non-violent, but taking up guns and/or killing people was seen as violent, and strongly rejected.  The argument over violence is more an argument over legitimacy.  People in Egypt saw destroying police stations as a legitimate and warranted response to their situation, so they didn’t consider it violent.  You see smashing windows as an illegitimate and unwarranted reaction to having our homes, jobs, livelihoods, and healthcare stolen by profiteers, so you call it violent.  Obviously we disagree, but it’s important to see why we disagree.

          Re #3, the same caveats about violence apply, but I would also point out that refusing to take action against an oppressor can itself be oppressive, because it allows the oppression to continue.  When we allow oppression to continue by not using every viable tool and tactic at our disposal to stop it, we become complicit in that oppression.  That’s not something to be applauded.

          Re #4, that’s just mean, you hurt my feelings!  Even if you don’t agree with the above points, after reading them maybe you will agree that I’m not an idiot.

      2. Unless they were plants, the blame seems to fall pretty squarely on the random idiots here.  It wasn’t the police that were breaking windows and vandalizing random cars.

        1.  so “random idiots” are people who break windows doing “violence” to a building, but police who are dressed in riot gear and beating the shit out of a human being are the good ones?

          1. I didn’t see any riot cops beating people today. I did see the guy in the black hoodie who tried to knock me down on 4th ave, though. 

          2.  As someone who was gassed & beat & locked up (for taking photographs, not even protesting, and for trying to vacate when the cops got ugly), yeah: you have a nice non-violent march, you’re defying the show of aggression from the cops, everything’s going well enough and suddenly a bunch of 15-30year old punks start throwing rocks and breaking windows, and then the cops step in with gas and beanbags. So, sure,. the cops are idiots too, but there is an actual philosophy to nonviolent civil disobedience, and destroying someone else’s property (no matter how awful that someone is) ain’t part of it.

          3. usonia, I can assure you that police aggression is not suddenly triggered by rock throwing.  Even the most fringe chaos-punx do not show up to a calm protest and start hurling rocks at the police.  I’ve been at many police confrontations, and seen lots of clashes between police and protesters, and I’ve never seen rocks thrown at police except in response to an escalation by the police – usually when they do a shield march (in which anyone who doesn’t move is trampled and/or arrested) or forcefully dispersing a protest.  That you believe this is a common pattern suggests that you aren’t very familiar with confrontational protest situations.

            Doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to your opinion, but you should realize that it may not be a very informed one.

          4. Well, given those two choices, yeah.  But did the latter category show up in Seattle?  Don’t change reality to fit your dystopian dreams.  This was a situation where there was a peaceful protest going on that was co-opted by a bunch of asshole kids. The cops showed up and dealt with it in a reasonable manner.  It was the asshole kids with the pepper spray this time around.

            If you were the woman trapped in her car with your 3 year old as a mob surrounded your car and beat on it with batons, breaking store windows all around you, how would you prefer the situation was handled?

  3. Great uplifting and peaceful march in Chicago today.  The worst that happened was somebody lighting a few firecrackers, and the handful anarchist children trying very hard to look menacing.

    1. Can we all agree to stop using the word “anarchist” as the catch-all bad guy word? Most of the anarchists I’ve met are peaceful and pretty intelligent; don’t fall prey to the way the media represents a much larger group of people.

  4. In Seattle we had one organized group dressed in black that smashed a window, stripped off their outerwear and disappeared into the crowd.
    Gives anarchy a bad name. 

    1. Why, because they were organized, planned ahead, and used effective tactics?  Seems like that gives anarchy a good name, considering the mainstream image is “chaotic thugs out for a thrill” :)

      1. Anyone demonstrating that people can live peacefully without rulers are the ideal.
        Those that act as if anarchy means slashing tires and breaking windows are the nightmare.
        Do you watch car races hoping for explosions?

        1. It’s not possible to live peacefully under oppressive rule.  The only way to get out from under oppressive rule is struggle, and I’m sorry to have to tell you that it will involve conflict, possibly lots of it.  To quote Frederick Douglas:

          If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.

          1.  Struggle against the tires of the masses? I’m pretty sure the overlords park inside. Fighting the oppressive coffeshops is fighting for the sake of the fight.

          2. If you just take issue with the specific targets, I think that’s a reasonable objection.  I’m not sure why those cars or whatever were targeted, so I can’t really respond to that concern.  Hopefully the folks who did it will issue a statement and once we’ve heard their side we can both decide if we think they were justified.

          3. Smashing some windows doesn’t necessarily mean the kind of “struggle” that Douglas may have been talking about.  As he goes on to say:  “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

  5. I like the Superheros. Just clicked through 66 pictures on SFGate’s site about the Oakland demo, hoping to find the pic that matches this description: “But many protesters remained peaceful, throwing flowers at the cops’ feet or marching peacefully with children in the Fruitvale District, vowing to avoid the violence downtown.”

    But, no. Not one. Mada. Pretty sad. The Anarchists vandalized my neighborhood, in the San Francisco Mission, last night. There are no Starbucks in my hood; American Apparel tried to move in but were blocked. I suspect that my neighborhood is probably about as pro-OWS as you can get, otherwise we would have moved somewhere else. But, now? [shaking my head] Thanks Anarchists. Can you now trash your own home now? Maybe paint some graffiti on your front door – smash a window to your bedroom.  You know; live the life that you create for others.

    1. I’m an OWS’er. I have no idea why people are attacking your hood. Pretty stupid. We all have a common enemy. 

    2. Holy generalizations, Batman. Let’s get something straight: not all anarchists are violent (despite what the media loves portraying — sensationalaism). Every single anarchist I’ve met through OWS is nonviolent. Clearly, a small portion like to engage in Black Bloc tactics (what you’re actually thinking of), but they are few and usually have an argument to defend their tactics, so I’d tune into that before passing blanket judgments. When I hear someone say “oh The Anarchists ruined everything” I generally assume they’ve never been involved with protesting and are keyboard sociologists. I’m sure your intentions in your post were good, but please recognize there is much more than the mainstream media/academia perspectives to protest tactics, in fact, there is an abundance of critical, internal thought on the subject.

      Criticize the strategic appropriateness of tactics, not the ethics of the tactics themselves (the latter being a far more nebulous and subjective a concept).

      1. Uhm, no. In 2003, I demo’d down Market Street San Francisco, prior to the Iraq invasion. Up front were the families. At the back were people on bikes doing damage. I asked some others what was going on. The reply was “oh, the Anarchists …”. So no, we weren’t armchair sociologists. 

        I agree with you on this: tis easy to generalize.  Block Bloc could be another generalization as violent. Except I recall, last year at RightsCon, a live feed from Yemen – they showed a demo of hundreds of women in full Niqab -a sea of black – protesting two of their own being shot and killed in that very same spot the day before. They were demo’ing *against* violence.

  6. When the teddy bears show up to protest, you should know your going to lose!

    1.  I heard a gay comedian say “You can never have anyone take your gay pride march seriously.  Every time you try to have one some guy always shows up in a gold cape and a sequined g-string.”

      1. That comedian can go back in the closet and stay there. The gay movement was started by drag queens and leathermen.

        1. Yeah just a group of “undesirables” who finally had had enough of being treated like shit…  wow history does repeat itself.

      2. *blink blink blink*
        And this has what to do with the awesome picture of a teddy bear in a very fashionable Guy Fawkes mask?

  7. ” also destroyed the windows of a NikeTown and an American Apparel store during one of the numerous marches throughout downtown Seattle”

    A dagger to the heart of the plutocracy.

    No surprise then that it’s already May 2 and the system still hasn’t collapsed??

  8. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to find at least a few agents provocateurs amongst these black-clad a**holes.  Think of the smile on a fat cat’s face when he realized how quickly the whole Occupy movement could be discredited with a few broken windows.

    1. By condemning other occupiers, you are helping to discredit your own movement.  You support the mainstream media narrative of “good protester vs bad protester”.  What you’re doing is helping the 1% justify taking action against protests because of “bad protesters”.  And while you may feel like a righteous good protester right now, it won’t be long before they slap that “bad” label on you too.  It happens to any group which begins to actually threaten power.  Respectfully disagreeing with other occupiers is one thing, but condemning and marginalizing them is just playing into the hands of the fat cats you’re so worried about.  We need to show solidarity with each other, despite our differences.  We need to resist being divided over petty things like this.  We’re in this movement together, whether we like it or not.

    2.  Certainly possible, and has been done before.  I noticed in Chicago that three big guys standing around with bandanas covering their faces looked very much like they were playing dress up in a big “disguise” fail.  It’s kind of easy to tell the difference between these “anarchists” and the people that really are living that lifestyle.

  9. The media and politicians have really succeeded in brainwashing people to believe in a very specific kind of non-violence but they refuse to acknowledge that nearly every time a group has agitated for social change in the United States, they’ve achieved [some] of their goals by using a variety of tactics, including vandalism, and tactics that would immediately be labeled as “terrorism” by today’s liberals without any consideration of the fact that the system under which we live is incredibly violent. It is the most violent country and culture in the world. By 2pm yesterday, the US Army had already killed 4 children in Afghanistan. All day yesterday, millions of black men spent their day in prison, where they make up a disproportionate number of incarcerated prisoners due to the system’s habit of racial profiling and over-sentencing. Hundreds of kids in Massachusetts received electric shocks yesterday for simply being autistic, having ADD or ADHD, because it’s not illegal for “doctors” to administer torture to curb unwanted behavior. In Israel, over 2500 political Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike, some of whom have been striking for over 50-60 days. Their demands to be treated like human beings have been ignored while Israel continues their destruction with weapons the United States paid for. Parents couldn’t afford to feed their children. Workers were subjected to mandatory overtime. George Zimmerman has supporters all over the country for killing a black boy in cold blood while CeCe McDonald stands on trial for killing some one who attacked her with a broken bottle for being black and transgender. Women and people of other genders are being denied affordable healthcare and access to abortion. They’ve even de-criminalized domestic violence in Topeka, KS.

    If that isn’t violence, I can’t imagine what violence is. If the indifference with which the government treats those worst off in its country isn’t violent, then we need to make enormous efforts to redefine it. All of this makes a few broken bank or store windows sound like child’s play. Have some respect for the people willing to put themselves out there to fight for your future freedom from state violence. You may not agree, but that doesn’t mean strategic violence is wrong.

  10. Its wierd that the entire world has been celebrating 1st of may for decades as a workers day due to what happened at Haymarket in the US and the US for some reason doesn’t – does anyone know why?

    1. Although some would disagree, the timing and prevailing thought of the political elite at the time moved it to September (Labor Day) to separate US solidarity movements from the rest of the world.  South Africa also did this.

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