MAy Day 2012: Madison-Wisconsin



Since 2006, May Day rallies have gained renewed energy throughout the U.S. as we have walked in solidarity with immigrant and minority comrades in Alabama and Arizona, where legislation has essentially legalized racial profiling and invasive searches by police. This year, Madison’s May Day brought some 200 people to the Capitol building, while Milwaukee’s saw 20,000 people take to the streets. Both events were organized primarily by prominent local immigrant rights groups and felicitously coincided with the anniversary week of the 1962 Port Huron statement.


Last year, during the Wisconsin Uprising, record numbers of protesters rallied for immigrant rights in Madison and Milwaukee. In this and previous years, however, May Day events tend to reflect the incredibly low percentage of Hispanics and African-Americans that make up Madison’s population, versus the demographics in Milwaukee where minorities easily outweigh the white population. Which is why the May Day events here constitute rare suspensions of the norm in central Madison that reveal the highly segregated nature of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the city itself.


But this year rallies were marked with signs not only demanding “Jobs not Racism” or “Stop the Deportations”, but that also claimed May Day in the name of the 99%.  This slogan moves us beyond last year’s protests in defense of worker’s rights and union preservation. As speakers made clear, those of us in the 99% rally against the 1% that has made immigration policy in the United States as draconian as it has been since World War II. But we also rally against a bipartisan and corporate agenda that increasingly dissolves and reconstructs new state and national borders ad infinitum in order to maximize the accumulation of human capital.


2006 and 2011 were empathetic expressions of solidarity with two distinctly identifiable groups; 2012 is a dissolution of those divisions in response to the various political and juridical land mines that have been littered across each of our identifiable territories of self-interest. This year at May Day, the hundreds of us in Madison and the tens of thousands of us in Milwaukee rallied in the name of the hegemony of the 99% that continues to swell.




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