"Mayday," which is used as a distress signal and derives from the French "m'aider ("come help me"), is being given new meaning by Wall Street and its Bankers in response to the upcoming "May Day" Occupy national protests.
This May Day demonstration will be the largest of its kind in a half-century and will take place in cities across the U.S. On May 1, 2012, tens of thousands of people throughout the U.S. and the world -- workers, students, immigrants, professionals, houseworkers -- employed and unemployed alike - will take to the streets to unite in a General Strike against "a system that does not work for us."
May Day is a holiday for the 99 percent. It is a day for people to come together, across all those lines which too often divide us -- race, class, gender, religion -- and challenge the systems that create these divisions.
The expected response from the City? Don't expect ticker-tape.
Being aware of the financial community's alarm and Mayor Bloomberg's mindset, I sought out one of New York City's most active volunteers (I was told she was "awesome" - and she is), Jackie DiSalvo, to determine the legitimacy of this hand-wringing and get a better idea of the "Occupy" side of this story.
I described to Jackie a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article titled "Wall Street Tracks 'Wolves' as May 1 Protests Loom" in which Brian McNary, a Pinkerton Global Risk director describes both Occupiers and the threat that "May Day" has for his banking clients and the need for "surveillance" of wild-eyed radicals.
"Banks cooperating on surveillance are like elk fending off wolves in Yellowstone National Park," he was quoted as saying... "While other animals try in vain to sprint away alone, elk survive attacks by forming a ring together," he declared.
As a spokesperson for the OWS Labor Outreach committee and member of the planning committee for the Mayday Solidarity March Coalition, she could only shake her head and sigh. "May Day, and Occupy, are both examples and manifestations of non-violent civil protest."
Pointedly, the extent to which Wall Street (and city government) will use their near-military police force to corral and subdue protestors will be the likely determiner as to how peaceful the protests will be.
(When I visited Union Square the other day for the student rally against $1 trillion in educational debt, there were close to 50 - FIFTY! - police cars surrounding the Park. If that is their response to several hundred people at a Student demonstration, what is in store for May 1?)
Are New York's Finest the "Hessians" of today?
Britain, in the American Revolutionary War, found it easier to go to German States to hire their armed military than to recruit their own citizens to fight an unpopular war. Wall Street must have taken note and put a more modern spin to this practice.
In 2010, JPMorgan gave the New York City Police Foundation the largest donation it has ever received -- $4.6 million. They outfitted over 1,000 officers with state-of-the-art laptops and communications tools. Donations are large and ongoing from Wall Street to the cops to this day... and one has to ask -- Is this not turning New York City's police department into the largest de-facto privately funded anti-protest army in the United States?
Will justification for police violence be concocted, as exampled by the police and the military actions taking place even today against protestors in Greece, Spain and the Middle East? Will the suppression of the "American Spring" begin on May Day?
Planning for exactly that possibility, New York City's Occupy has organized neighborhoods and sites into what it terms "Green, Yellow and Red" zones. The safest for protestors (from arrest and harassment) are designated green, the more problematical as yellow, and the more risky as red.
Is Green, Yellow, Red the New Red, White and Blue?
What will be your choice on that day? Green? Yellow? Red? Will you even be on the streets? Will you choose not to go to work or to school? Will you take a day off from shopping? Or, will you wisely (?) stay above the fray and come home to turn on the news to watch your more committed fellow citizen exercising for you the right to free speech and assembly?
I wonder what color that latter choice would be...