Dueling May Days: Radicals Compete for Your Allegiance


On Sunday, anti-war forces hope to capitalize on May Day’s radical legacy, though once again they’re divided. The Troops Out Now Coalition is holding a “Jobs, Not War” rally in Union Square: “We’re saying that war is a worker’s issue, because the biggest load is being carried by working-class children,” says Brenda Stokely, president of District Council 1707. But that’s also the day United for Peace and Justice picked for its “No Nukes! No Wars!” march from the United Nations to Central Park. World leaders will begin reviewing the imperiled Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on May 2, so UFPJ wants to “expose the hypocrisy of the Bush administration, which uses weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war in Iraq and to threaten Iran yet continues to violate this treaty,” says national coordinator Leslie Cagan. UFPJ expects many thousands to attend, including survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and anti-nuke stalwarts Daniel Ellsberg and Dr. Helen Caldicott. And then there’s the squatter May Day festival in Tompkins Square. What began in 1986 as an anarchist/yippie throw-down has morphed into a hip-hop-flavored rave. But this year the good vibes may be less plentiful because the parks department withheld the permit till the 11th hour. Apparently, Parks was worried that legions of stoned ravers would get in the way of another May Day tradition: planting flowers.