MAY DAY! SRBG led the demos in front of Gap, Banana Republic & Pacific Stock Exchange, S.F.
May Day madness
By Stephen Bender
Activists celebrated May Day with an impromptu dance party at the Levi's store on Union Square Monday only to find the party quashed when 30 of them were arrested.
The Levi's party in which dancers passed out leaflets informing customers about the sweatshop workers who make the company's jeans was just part of a long day's worth of protests, parties, and performances.
May Day began as a pagan festival celebrating fertility and spring. At the end of the last century, it became International Workers' Day to commemorate the deaths of the four Haymarket martyrs, anarchists executed for their participation in an 1886 Chicago rally championing the establishment of the eight-hour workday.
The events in San Francisco brought together the environmental movement and the labor movement, with a dance around a maypole and a sing-along of the socialist anthem "The Internationale."
After a pageant in downtown's Justin Herman Plaza, the group began a march that took in Victoria's Secret, seller of sexy lingerie made by sweatshop workers and prisoners; the headquarters of Citigroup, which underwrites such destructive projects as the massive Three Rivers Gorge in China; and the Gap, another company that profits from sweatshop labor.
Along the way there were speeches and chants but also dancing, puppetry, and a brief set by local punk band Generator.
Outside the Gap's Post and Kearny headquarters, organizer Juliette Beck of Global Exchange looked up at office workers, some waving and clapping. By "transforming the Financial District into a carnival atmosphere," she said, the marchers were "envisioning a different future."
"Now," she said, "we need to get some of those smiling faces down here with us."