Activist Groups Plan "Re-Occupation" for May Day
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Activist Groups Plan “Re-Occupation” for May Day

Occupy Toronto, No One is Illegal and the May 1st Movement announce 24-hour "re-occupation," giant chess game in celebration of International Workers Day.

Protesters gather at the original occupation of St. James Park. Photo by Todd Aalgaard/Torontoist.

With just four activists speaking to roughly a dozen members of the media (and one confused security guard) from behind a plexiglass podium, this morning’s announcement of the Toronto’s May Day events—a day of protests co-organized by the May 1st Movement, Occupy Toronto and No One is Illegal—was a bit anti-climatic.

That said, the announcement wasn’t without highlights, the major one being a march from Alexandra Park to an undisclosed site for a 24-hour “re-occupation” in the vein of Occupy Toronto, which the press kit called “Occupy the Heart of the Beast.” The next morning, activists will gather outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to protest Barrick Gold‘s annual general meeting.

“Mining is actually one of Canada’s biggest industries, and it’s played the same role in Canada as have banks in the United States,” said Syed Hussan, a member of No One is Illegal and media liaison for Toronto’s May Day events. “That, to us, seems like a very pertinent moment.”

May 1 is International Workers Day, popularly known as May Day. The day marks the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre, in which police in Chicago killed several workers who were striking in support of the eight-hour work day. The holiday, which is not officially recognized in Canada, has traditionally been associated with unions, but has become a rallying point for anti-globalization activists in recent years.

Occupy Toronto’s Lana Goldberg said that May Day is a chance for Torontonians to add to what she views as a growing global sentiment.

“Building on the uprising in North Africa and the Arab world, the indignados of Spain, the battle in Wisconsin and now the inspiring student movement in Quebec, we will march and we will re-occupy, inaugurating the Toronto spring,” she said.

May Day organizers were careful to point out that they aren’t interested in the sort of violence that has characterized some of those uprisings. But they do want people to be inspired by the revolutionary spirit that sparked them.

“We’re focusing on building an exciting, entertaining, family-friendly event, and building involvement in our community,” said Hussan.

In that spirit, several non-traditional protest events have been added to the agenda, the most notable one being Operation Chess Magik.

“It’s a giant chess game that will take place in the heart of downtown Toronto,” said Goldberg. “It’s a creative action that will spark some talk, plus action, about the 1 per cent dominating the 99 per cent.”

May 1st Movement representative Pablo Vivanco says that while May Day is an opportunity for working people to speak out against government budget cuts and austerity measures that affect their daily lives, its goal is bigger.

“This May Day, we’re calling on people to realize the deep political crisis that is capitalism,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly clear from what we are witnessing in places like Spain, Greece, Italy and the United States that shifting the chairs on this boat will not stop it from sinking further.”

For more information on May Day events, search for #May1TO on Twitter.

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