Historic day

Pub date May 1, 2008
SectionPolitics Blog

Today’s various May Day celebrations and demonstrations in San Francisco are unique. Never before have we seen the labor, immigrant rights, youth, and anti-war movements joined so closely and seamlessly into a coalition that is demanding a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign and economic policies. The messages from the podiums in Civic Center, Dolores Park, Justin Herman Plaza, and the ILWU Hall sounded surprisingly similar and unifying themes, making common cause of their struggles for a more just world that empowers all people, regardless of the artificial borders that separate them.
ILWU made history by shutting down all West Coast ports over a war. Previously, such tactics would only be employed for labor contracts, while the AFL-CIO and other major unions have never voted to oppose a U.S. war. It probably didn’t make much of a difference in the prosecution of the war, but it does signal a possible turning point and a coalescing of disparate groups around a set of issues that need to be more forcefully embraced by those in power (are you listening, Madame Speaker?) if they want to remain there.
Yes, it was a beautiful day in San Francisco in more ways than one. We’ll have more on what it all means — including color from the events and reporting on the issues — in the days to come and in next week’s paper.