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US, Seattle M1, IWW Labor/Neighbor May Day In Seattle

Here is a rough first hand report from Seattle for May Day;

The event consisted of DJ's, a few bands, under a tent with a banner in the back that read, "Capitalism cannot be Reformed", the much accredited banner seen during WTO, so there was no confusion as to what we were about. At the same time, we weren't there boring folks with speakers after speaker, but at the same time the politics were there. We got the tent set up at about 4ish (it rains a lot here) to be sure that the equipment donated by neighborhood folk would be protected by the rain. About three dozen people were present at any one time during the warm up, where the DJs played music and we handed out red "Fill this out when you need a union" postcards. The weather held out fortunately. At about 6:15, about 100 bicyclists came through (including folks from the sort of informal bike messenger association) with about 6 cop cars following them. At that point, the first band was setting up, and we kicked things off. I gave an introduction, and then Arthur Miller gave a pretty hard-core speech about what needed to be done (and he pulled no punches as the pigs grew in numbers in the parking lot across third street). Then the first band went on, and folks were having a pretty good time dancing around the basketball court. Locals came out of their apartments across the alley and were enjoying the show, and the kitchen workers from Mama's Mexican Kitchen took turns watching from that back all night, tapping their toes.

At our peak there was probably 200 or so people in attendance, and with the comings and goings, probably up to 300.

During the first band, Omari Tahir from the African American museum came through, and agreed to speak impromptu (I was going to go a head and spreak, then gave up my time, since he's better at it then I am and we were pretty tight for time as it was). Whenever I have seen someone speak on Black politics, I always notice a pattern in the crowd; about half pay no attention, and a little less then half are paying attention somewhat, and then a handful at the front that are listening intently to the words. Omari's speech was no exception, and it was good to see faces that I didn't recognize hearing his message. He also addressed directly the politics of crack cocaine, which was the reason we had decided to help Belltown take back the park, as it is a haven for crack and heroine addicts (and the pigs who rough them up); Omari hit just about every point, from an anti- capitalist perspective, and even was able to recover the crowd with WTO references when there was a distraction near third street.. In the meantime, the second band was setting up, and then the organizer for the bicyclist contingent announced the winner of the contest they were hiding amongst their group (best bike butt, featuring gift certificates for Left Bank, Vain (a local hair salon, and also a record store in Belltown).

At about this time we were trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that our permit was going to expire in 20 minutes, and we still had one more band to go, and the cops were waiting in the wings. We had applied for a permit until 10pm, and it was verbally confirmed that we would have the park until 10. When the permit was issued (48 hours notice) they shaved it down to 8pm, which fucked us big time. We decided to keep going to see what would happen.

At about 8:05, the pigs walked up and began to hassle the sound man. He pointed to a wob and said to talk to him. the pig asked him if he would take care of getting people to disperse, and he said of course (since the pigs didn't say do it now). We kept in communication with the sound man (most of the equipment was his), and he agreed to keep going. Five minute later 3 different cops went up to the outlet to try to pull the plug. About 4 wobs went to investigate, and the pigs insisted we had to leave because they knew our permit expired at 8. He was told that we applied until 10, and the pig retorted that it was too late and were disturbing the community. Another wob asked if anyone was complaining and they didn't answer. I then informed them that wasn't possible, since it was the community that organized the event! Another FW said "I want to see your copy of the permit", and that delayed them another few minutes, and they left the area where the plug was. The band kept going, people knew something was up, but stuck around. At that point we still had about 150 in attendance.

A FW came back and reported that the pigs said the would begin arresting and citing unless we dispersed immediately (by then we were *20 minutes* past our permit). I asked around to see if people were willing to challenge the pigs, and in particular, the sound guy. He wanted to continue, and I went to talk to the pigs. People weren't into fighting the pigs, which was pretty smart, as we were not prepared to do so, and we didn't want to bring the shit into Belltown, and undermine our legitimacy as not being scary wobblies bringing riots into the neighborhood (the Seattle pigs are well prepared these days, as they averted a squat at the "shoe" building where the artists are getting tossed out for ".com" office space, in cooperation with the Washington Stae Patrol) The pigs told me that they "had talked to the permit holder" and I told them it was impossible, since it was *my name* on the permit. More cops were coming around, and I managed to negotiate that the band could at least finish their song, as they simply were not hearing anything from the person whose name was on the permit, claiming they had already been "cool with us". I talked to the sound guy, and he figured now was the time to bail. The band finished up and I made an announcement, making it clear as to why things were getting shut down (everybody at this point already knew). No one was arrested, the only people that had to deal with the pigs were the organizers, and we were successful in avoiding a confrontation that we would have lost. Once again, the pigs spoiled everybody's fun, to their own future demise.

In all, the event was a success. Locals are talking about future events in the newly reclaimed public space, and in spite of the pigs we had a fucking awesome and festive mayday.

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