Posts Tagged ‘Colin O’Malley’

Is the Worker’s Paradise Here Yet?

May 1, 2009


Happy May Day everybody!  I wasn’t sure if I would say anything about the holiday, but then I noticed the flyer above taped to a pole in the parking lot at Home Depot.  It’s the first Soviet/Marxist-themed handyman flyer I’ve ever seen, so I took it as a sign.

Three years ago, I was one of a couple hundred folks who held a rally and unpermitted march down Main Street as part of a huge day of action for immigrant rights.  The police broke up the march and arrested two of the organizers, including my friend and fellow Colin caucus member Colin O’Malley.  From the May 2, 2006 Buffalo News:

About 200 college students listened to speeches, chanted and held signs Monday in front of Harriman Hall on the University at Buffalo’s South Campus as they protested proposals to crack down on illegal immigrants.

They then marched a mile to Shoshone Park to listen to more appeals for illegal immigrants.

“Our battles are not with immigrants to this country,” rally organizer Carlos Lizarraga, a nursing student, told the crowd at the beginning of the rally. “Our enemies are the rich, the capitalists, the lawmakers, the politicians, the elite and those who leave us disenfranchised and oppressed.”

He also had his problems with the police.

Police arrested Lizarraga and Colin O’Malley after the two rally organizers stepped onto Main Street during the crowd’s walk to the park.

Police in eight patrol cars guided the marchers through the University Heights business district during heavy early evening traffic. A road repair project already clogged traffic along a stretch of Main Street, with a single travel lane for each direction.

Police, who said they had two hours advance notice of the march, said they instructed the marchers to stay on the sidewalk. Some marchers said the road repair project made that difficult at various points along the route and accused the police of being aggressive.

The UB May 1st Coalition, consisting of several organizations, sponsored the “No Human Being Is Illegal” rally as part of a nationwide “Day Without Immigrants” boycott to show solidarity with illegal immigrants.

The rally turned a little tense in Shoshone Park, with at least one speaker using profanity as he chided police. Officers in 11 police cars kept their distance, but surrounded the rally. Children played on a playground about 30 yards from the speaker.

Still, those in the diverse, college-age crowd were peaceful. And they expressed concern for those who have entered this country illegally and now fear what a congressional bill could mean for them.

A measure passed by the House of Representatives would treat being in the country illegally as a felony.

Wow, I’d forgotten how militant that action was.  Carlos was actually put in a  chokehold before being arrested.  That was just about the hairiest local action I can remember during the Bush years.

In 2005, I spent May Day at a big anti-nuke rally in NYC.  It gets lost in the shuffle now, but one of the big victories of the peace movement over the last decade was thwarting Bush’s plan to build a new generation of nuclear weapons systems.  The trip was most memorable, though, for a late-night discussion I had with some friends from Peace Action.   We were bitching about the state of the movement, and we came to the story of one Peace Action group that had gone bankrupt after opening its own coffeehouse.  According to the president of the local chapter, it couldn’t be helped since “our coffee wasn’t any good.”  The great Catherine Detwiler’s timeless response — “that seems like a solvable problem!” — still tickles me to this day.

Back in Buffalo (and back two more years) I was involved in a much less eventful May Day march down Main Street.  A group of younger anarcho-types had come together to plan direct actions against the Iraq War in April 2003, but since the war had ended so quickly — ha! — we decided to form our own organization and kick things off with a weekend of events around May Day.  And so the mighty Buffalo Coalition Against Poverty (BCAP) was born.  It was a neat weekend — a Wal-Mart demo, a benefit concert, the march, a big picnic and skill share — but over time it became clear that scensters and crust punks weren’t a solid base on which to build an organization.  Oh well.

Then, I organized and put myself on the line.  Now, I blog.  Hasta la victoria siempre? (shrugs shoulders)