Appleton, WI: Fox Valley communities celebrate May Day
Appleton, WI – On May 1, over 40 people gathered in downtown Appleton at Houdini Plaza to commemorate International Workers' Day, or May Day. There were speeches from multiple local organizations. The Appleton Students for a Democratic Society, Wisconsin Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunrise Appleton, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, AFT Local 6511, Wisconsin Bail Out People Movement, and United Action Oshkosh joined together for this important holiday.
Union power, indigenous rights, ending corporate greed, smashing capitalism and celebrating working-class solidarity were all key topics. Gathering safely was also a priority as organizers urged social distancing and provided free masks. The full program was presented amidst the busy Saturday foot traffic as onlookers gave cheers and cars honked.
“In the United States, we must begin to understand that most people are workers – whether we’re talking about organized workers who are members of trade unions, victims of police crimes, undocumented immigrants, students and anything in between – the one common characteristic that we each share is the fact that we work; we sell our labor power to the rich to survive,” said Terrence Freeman, a member of FRSO. “Through this common characteristic, we can begin to recognize our common enemy: the capitalist class, which actively exploits us! And, it is necessary to oppose this common enemy.”
Freeman continued, “It is important that we begin to strive for unity among our class, the working class. If we do not do this, we will not succeed. We cannot fight each other and also fight the capitalists. We must unify and combat those things that harm workers, such as police brutality, deportation, national oppression, racism, climate change and anti-union legislation.”
The rally was followed with a march to the Appleton Police Station where Hollie Poupart, one local organizer with the Wisconsin Alliance, led a chant, “Police unions suck!” while highlighting the many examples where police terrorized the community and justified this behavior with the endorsement of a ‘union.’ A bright red May Day banner with the political program of the celebration led the march. The route wound through the Lawrence University campus before finishing a few blocks away at City Park.
Once at the park, people were treated to a free healthy meal and access to a community pantry from Fox Valley Food Not Bombs. This is the first time in recent memory, if not ever, that Appleton has celebrated International Workers Day. Organizers hope to collaborate on future May Days and other events.