Austin: Revolutionaries Celebrate May Day with Combative March, Clash with Police

By the Editorial Board

With militant determination against violent police repression, through thunder and rain, revolutionaries and community members marched combatively through the streets of downtown Austin in celebration of International Workers’ Day on May 1, honoring the struggle of the international proletariat on the most important holiday of our class. Although nine marchers were arrested, eight of them after a melee broke out with the Austin Police Department (APD), the police could not stop the march from continuing, nor dampen the revolutionary spirit of the demonstrators, who have marched in Austin for the past seven years and reinvigorated May Day as a true red, proletarian holiday within the United States.

A banner reading, “Proletarians of all Countries, Unite! May 1 – International Workers’ Day” led the front of the march, as well as portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, the Great Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao Zedong, and Chairman Gonzalo, as marchers carried tall red flags bearing the hammer and sickle along with smaller red flags.

A banner toward the rear read, “Cast imperialism into its grave, the proletarian revolution advances the world over!” There was also a section of the march that organizers referred to as the “People’s Bloc,” in honor of Austin-area victims of the police and civilian reactionaries, which included banners with portraits of Garrett Foster, Alex Gonzales Jr., Mike Ramos, and Javier Ambler.

The marchers chanted slogans including “Long live the first of May, it’s International Workers’ Day!” and “Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong—the fight, the fight, the fight goes on!” —they also sang revolutionary songs like “Without Power,” “Red Flag,” and “The Internationale.” Early on, as the march passed a group of construction workers, both the crowd and workers jubilantly cheered.

APD, which seemed to be unprepared, with little awareness of the starting location, were not able to move the march out of the street for the first 45 minutes when it began west of downtown. There were times that marchers seemed hesitant—after one arrest and threats of mass detention, they would move onto the sidewalk before taking the street again on and off throughout the march.

At one point, the march took the intersection on Congress Ave., where Garrett Foster was murdered by the reactionary US Army sergeant Daniel Perry, and held their position while the march chanted, “Garrett Foster, presente en la lucha!” (present in the struggle!) Garrett’s widow, Whitney, was also present at the march and showed a militant determination through the harsh conditions, herself the target of an APD attack only weeks prior.

Bicycle cops go around a cement truck moved by workers to block police vehicles from following the march.

As police advanced on the rear, the march moved from the intersection and continued forward. As marchers headed away from Congress Ave., construction workers deliberately drove their cement truck to impede the movement of police cars who were tailing the march, frustrating the police. At other points, sympathetic workers came out of nearby businesses, distributing water to marchers and raising fists of support.

As the march approached the bridge where 11th St. crosses Interstate 35, the reactionary forces of APD flanked the march in order to stop them from reaching the highway. This sparked a clash between the demonstrators and police—the police used pepper spray on the crowd and arrested another eight people and stole any propaganda they could grab. Police threw some protesters onto the ground and kneeled forcefully on them. The bulk of the march soon broke free from the attempt by the police to encircle and restrict the march.

After the clash, one marcher told the crowd over a megaphone, “My heart is beating, not with fear, but with joy!” On multiple occasions, APD illegally prevented the march from proceeding on the sidewalk, the state showing that they will strip even the most elementary democratic rights from a revolutionary demonstration. All arrestees were out by the next day, and local activists are fundraising for the legal battle ahead as well as for bail money that was spent to secure their release. Tribune encourages our readers to donate in support of those arrested.

Following the arrests, the march headed back west as a severe thunderstorm began to pour down. Marchers trudged through streets, sometimes ankle deep in streaming water, while bicycle police took shelter in a parking garage for a short period. Marchers commenting to Tribune said the worsening weather conditions in fact strengthened their resolve to continue.

The march proceeded to Woolridge Park, where demonstrators made a large circle around a pavilion, standing upright with their red flags, and a speech was given about the revolutionary situation across the world and the worsening imperialist crisis: “Today we count our advances, honor our martyrs, and celebrate alongside the international proletariat, under the red flag. We are called to go to the deepest and most profound masses and educate them in revolutionary violence, a difficult and dangerous road but – this is what we are made for, proclaim it proudly: imperialism marches steadily into its grave; the proletarian revolution advances the world over!”

The speech addressed the mounting economic ravages of the imperialist crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, which the imperialists use to wage genocide against the people, increasing misery in the US and worldwide, emphasizing that this only means greater resistance from the people: “Look to the May uprisings where the militancy of the masses shook the world. Look to the poor peasants of Brazil, where the peasants’ blood stains the land conquered in heroic struggle against the big landowners and the bureaucrat capitalist state, lackeys of US imperialism.”

The speaker continued: “We salute the People’s Wars which rage today, bright and undeniable beacons of proletarian revolution which through military deeds surge toward New Power in their countries, and which struggle to impose Maoism as the command and guide of the World Proletarian Revolution.”

The speaker concluded stating that the Communist Party of the USA “must be reconstituted amidst the storms and fires of the class struggle. This is our duty!”

The group moved to the adjacent Travis County Jail to show solidarity with those inside who had been arrested earlier, as bicycle police and other officers with wooden batons formed a line in front of the entrances. The demonstrators crowded the entrances, chanting “We Won’t Hide, We Won’t Cower, Take up Guns and Seize State Power!” and militantly facing off with police. They sang “The Internationale” while thunder rang out and the rain intensified. When one police officer attempted to snatch a marcher’s flag, the marcher fought back, knocking the officer in the chest and backing him off.

From the jail, the march headed toward its conclusion, taking the streets again in its last stretch until arriving at a park where it began to disperse.

This year’s International Workers’ Day marks another success for revolutionaries in the United States—the size of the march was unprecedented for a red, revolutionary International Workers’ Day demonstration in recent years, and although there was room for more boldness by the march, the political unity and morale remained strong as marchers faced state repression and difficult weather conditions. Over several hours, against police violence and through pouring rain, a mass of red flags, soaked with the blood of those who have come before and those who will continue to raise and defend the workers’ flag, pushed valiantly through the city to show that nothing will stop the waves of world proletarian revolution that will make a casket for the old society and inevitably cast imperialism into its grave.

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