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May Day Protests: Having Your Say Beyond the Web

may day pdx protest parade carpenters union by Lorelle VanFossenYesterday was the annual May Day protests across the United States. I stumbled upon the Portland, Oregon, May Day protest parade on my way to meet with the panel members for the WordPress Theme Panel at WebVisions 2012.

The power of the blog is the ability to have your say. A blog doesn’t guarantee the right to have that say, but it is a vehicle millions use around the world to let their voice be heard.

With the power of web publishing and social media to let your voice be heard, to defend your right, stand on a soap box, and blow some whistles, clearly the past two years have shown us that physically visible protests continue to carry weight when it comes to changing the world, or at least being heard.

The three block long protest march was small compared to other cities and past marches, but the passion was still present. Representatives from unions, immigrants, and workers of all types along with Occupy members peacefully, and slowly, moved through downtown Portland with an amazing array of police escorts and aerial surveillance. I spotted three helicopters and two airplanes circling over the heads of the sign carrying crowd.

If you want to be heard, use the web. It is a powerful vehicle. However, never forget that your physical presence in protest can speak much louder, especially when joined by like minds walking arm in arm.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. ellen
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Blogs hurt no one. Destroying others’ property is another matter. Break windows? Rapes? Burninf what isn’t theirs? Change the world? Change themselves! Maybe tbey would change more with that energy helping someone learn to read or ward off the loneliness of a senior. What selfishness and self indulgence.

    • Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Blogs don’t hurt, bloggers do. Words have power, as do pictures, sound, and video.

      No one in Portland destroyed property in the annual May Day march here. If they did somewhere else, its mob mentality, no different than the ridiculous ways many sports fans celebrate a big sports team win by flipping and burning cars, breaking windows, looting, drunken fights…ah, the glory of the sport. It doesn’t matter if the issue is political or cultural, get a mob together and someone stepping out of context and things turn ugly. I would not condemn those who peacefully marched in the May Day annual parade and protests for what a few idiots do.

      It was the May Day protests originally in the 1800s that led to a shortened work day and day care for workers children that led to parents being able to spend more time with their families, children being required to go to school until they were 18 instead of leaving at 9, 10, or 14 to work in the factories, and helped make way for rights that allowed senior citizens to get pensions and benefits after retiring.

      Marching in a May Day parade reminds us of how far we’ve come to honor the worker as an important part of society and not a slave. Literally.

  2. Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Good on you for supporting this protest.

  3. Posted May 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Sure wish I could see in your photos what @ellen is talking about. What? None of that stuff happened? I wonder what her sources might be…

    Thanks for taking a stand, Lorelle! Oh, and @ellen, not that you actually care, but I’ve helped kids learn to read, and spent many hours talking with nursing home residents. I’ve marched on May Day too.

    • Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Every community had their own annual parade in honor of May Day workers protests. I’m glad you’ve marched in these and stood your own stand. Thanks.

  4. Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I would be much more sympathetic of this movement if they could say what they want. To date, I have yet to hear a cohesive statement in regard to thier demands. Do they want socialism? Do they want free housing? What are they willing to trade off for it? Thier Ipods? Trendy starbucks coffees? What are they willing to do to EARN this? I suspect if any of these protestors could trade places with the greedy capitalists they are protesting, there would be more than a few takers. Not much for showing true conviction.

    I lost all respect for the Occupy movement on three different occasions. One, that they brought in Big Screen TV’s in Philadelhia to watch the baseball playoffs last fall. I guess some millionaires are better than others. Two, when they built shrines to Steve Jobs. Once again, maybe its just billionaires. Especially ones who build corporations that pay less taxes than Big Bad Oil. And have a better profit margin. and exploit foriegn workers. And Three, when the weather got a little cold and they packed it in for the winter. Great sense of committment to go along with thier lack of message. A perfect storm they are not!

    • Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      The only want for the May Day Protests is to celebrate the May Day Protests, an annual event honoring the original May Day protests demanding shortening the work day to 8 hours in the 1880s. It brings together unions and labor rights groups to remind the world that working someone for long unbearable hours in sweat shops is not the way to run a business. It has nothing to do with the Occupy movement. Some showed up for the protest march, but it was a day of remembering the rights of workers.

  5. Posted May 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Some showed up? I think you need to look at your pictures again. Let me guess. You are in education right? Unions had thier time and place but now they have totally run amuck. Using thier coffers to elect officials who in turn play favortism and kowtow to them as a way to stay in office. I come from a union family. My father was a union official as was my brother and uncles. You need to open your eyes and take a long objective look at what they are doing to our culture. When the people they elect bow to a very small segment(estimated union particiaption is less than 10% of the total workforce)then the problem becomes one of who can shout the loudest. If as you say, those at the protests were all union people,then who were those arrested in the various cities? Additionally, I would be curious to find out how many of those attending were there of thier own volition and how many were being paid to attend.

    • Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      I stood by my father during several strikes. I know unions well.

      Either way, my point about having your say still holds. The purpose of the article is not to celebrate, endorse, nor support civil unrest but to remind people about the power of having your say, and how precious it is. I’m glad you’ve had yours.

      • Posted May 4, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

        You may want to take a look at the OWS site. the very same demonstrations you claim as union owned are also being claimed as victory marches for OWS. And have have yet to see anywhere a union message on the day trying to put distance between the two. From my view, it is hard to seperate one from the other. But then again,I may have missed your intended points in the article. Sorry if that was the case.

      • Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        The demonstration cited in this article are part of the May Day celebration, not Occupy Wall Street.

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