This afternoon, on May Day, a banner reading, “Raise the Minimum Rage (A)” was hung at a busy intersection in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Fliers detailing the history and significance of May Day as well as a brief analysis of gentrification were also distributed and thrown. The slogan on the banner is in reference to the debate over the potential raising of the minimum wage in Seattle to a $15/hour minimum. An orange smoke bomb was also tossed into the street. The text from the flier is included below.
“On May 1st, 1886, 40,000 workers in Chicago–and half a million across the United States– struck for an eight hour workday. Chicago police shot and killed four strikers. In response, a rally was held on May 4th at Haymarket Square. When police attacked the crowd, a bomb was thrown at them. The police then fired indiscriminately at the crowd. At least four demonstrators and eight cops lay dead.
Eight anarchists were arrested and found guilty for the bombing. Five of them were executed while the other three were sent to prison. Louis Lingg, one of the five murdered comrades, chose to end his life the night before on November 10th.
In the words of the Haymarket martyr George Engel, ‘My greatest wish is that workingmen may recognize who are their friends and who are their enemies.’
May Day lives on in the memories of those rebels’ struggles and continues to thrive more than one hundred years later. In Seattle, the fight against capitalism is also the fight against gentrification. Gentrification is the social and economic process that transforms neighborhoods from mostly working class communities of color to wealthy white areas. It is made possible by developers, investors, business owners, yuppies, and politicians. The end goal will result in the erasure of collective memory, community, culture, autonomy, and the ability to even live in the Seattle city limits. Join together to fight against capitalism in all its forms.”
Happy May Day!