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The 4th annual anti-capitalist May Day saw an unprecedented turn out of over 20,000 (not a typo and most likely way more) radicals, queers, ravers, anarchists, partiers, socialists and people from all walks of life. May Day, International Worker's Day, is a day to celebrate our power to resist the exploitation of capitalist elites. In this spirit we showed we don't need the support of corporate sponsors, the city, or the police to throw the most badass street party Vancouver has seen in a long time.
At 6pm there was already a huge crowd in the park from an earlier labour demonstration. At 7pm a free BBQ and folk show began and people were spilling onto the sidewalks, overwhelming the police. Attendees stepped up and helped cook and serve food, freeing up the organizers to move in the roving sound system. A squad of cops attempted to catch up to those grabbing the speakers, but people crewed up and out smarted the cops.
By 9pm, we got word of people already trying to take the streets and cops threatening them with arrest, so we got our sound system out there to join them, and so did a herd of people. Within a couple minutes the sound system was confronted by two cops. They were surrounded and grossly outnumbered and there was no way they were shutting down the sound. They retreated as pop cans were hurled at them.
The crowd on the street, now hundreds strong, moved toward a police line. As people pushed against the line, cops retaliated with pepper spray. The crowd decided to turn around and heard north, picking up hundreds more people from the park. In front of the march was a banner reading “Solidarity With Baltimore”.
Garbage cans, couches and City of Vancouver barricades were thrown into the street. At some point a police van had several of their windows busted out. The march then spent another hour within a 6 block radius of Grandview park. Another sound system (there were at least 4 autonomous sound systems at the party) was almost kettled by the police, but people continued the trend of out-maneuvering, out-numbering and out-smarting the cops.
By 12pm thousands made their way toward 1st ave (a major intersection) and held it for around 25 minutes. As we made it toward commercial and Broadway the crowd continued to thin, with a solid crew of revelers surrounding the sound. The organizers then brought the sound system to a safe place and called it a night. There were 3 arrests made and a lawyer is looking to get in contact with the jail.
This was Vancouver's biggest anarchist organized May Day ever. The organizers decided to take a different approach by keeping the political aspect while making it more appealing to working class people by organizing a commercial drive street party. Of course it wasn't that simple, oddly, the callout for the party went viral over the internet weeks before, with Vancity Buzz and even Virgin Radio promoting an “anti-capitalist street party on Commercial Drive”. It is unclear how or if this could ever be repeated again.
This night was probably the most joyous, rowdy and rebellious atmosphere that I and probably many others have felt in a while, if ever. We, the people, have the power to take these streets back whenever and however we want. People are complaining about the trash that was left there but it doesn’t compare to the havoc wreaked by capitalist exploitation – developers forcing us out of our own neighbourhoods and industry polluting our environments. I hope along with many otheres to to do this again and I'm sure I'll see a lot of you again. Power to the people. Take over the streets and party on Vancouver area rebellious underground!