Why did May Day turn into Riot Day?
because they can't come up with a Budget and threats of Protests here on
May 1st hang in the News.
So I decided to do a search on May Day Riots and was surprised they went
back to the 1500's. ( I did not go back further so I start there).
Here are some of those May Day Riots. Notice they center around Race, The Socialists and The Unions. All heavy topics this administration is using against the people of this country.
Evil May Day: Re-examining the Race Riot of 1517
The First of May in Tudor England was a traditional public holiday,
normally set aside for celebration and light-hearted revelry, but on
that day in 1517 the City of London exploded into a destructive race
riot that must have terrified peace-loving citizens almost as much as
its intended victims. The scale of the event was unique in
sixteenth-century London but its interest for us lies not only in what
happened and why, but also in the reaction of the authorities. The way
that news was managed and the subsequent story ‘spun’ shows that the
Tudor establishment, and in particular the Lord Chancellor, Thomas
Wolsey, was as aware as modern politicians of the need to cover up their
mistakes and uphold their reputations.
On that night, a mob of angry young men, at least a thousand strong,
gathered in the area north of St. Paul’s and rampaged through the City
for about a mile, destroying property and assaulting anyone who stood in
their path. Most of the insurgents were poor labourers, either watermen
or journeymen and apprentices in the City’s tanning and brewing
industries, supported by some women and young clergymen. Gathering
numbers, they moved eastwards from the parish of St. Nicholas’ Shambles
and broke into Newgate Prison, liberating several inmates who had
recently been detained for attacking foreigners. The momentum of the
riot seems to have been temporarily halted at St. Martin’s Gate, where
the under-sheriff of London, Sir Thomas More, tried bravely but
unsuccessfully to persuade them to return to their homes. However, a
fusillade of stones, bats, bricks and hot water, thrown at the rabble by
residents, re-ignited their anger and few houses in the parish were
Later, in Leadenhall, the fury of the rioters became focused on the
house of one John Meautys, a merchant from Picardy and a secretary to
King Henry VIII, who had a reputation for harbouring French pickpockets
and unlicensed wool carders. He was fortunate to escape with his life.
The houses and shops of the foreign shoemakers, who populated the area,
were looted and their stock hurled into the street. The City authorities
seemed powerless before the mob. Indeed, such was the ‘frantic fury’ of
the Lieutenant of the Tower of London, Sir Richard Cholmeley, that he
ordered his men to fire ordnance into the City in an attempt to pacify
the crowd. Ultimately, though, it was exhaustion more than force-of-arms
that came to the aid of the Mayor and the civic authorities. The riot
began to peter out after five or six hectic hours and by 3 a.m. peace
had been fully restored. No one had been killed but many were left
injured and destruction had been wrought across a swathe of the City.
Our chief source, indeed our only source, for much of what happened
on that day is the contemporary chronicler, Edward Hall. His invaluable
account, first published towards the end of Henry’s reign, nonetheless
reflects the attitudes and prejudices of a lawyer, a Member of
Parliament and a Common Serjeant of the City of London, a Tudor
panegyrist with an abiding mistrust of chief minister Wolsey, and one
who shared with most educated contemporaries a fear of that ‘many headed
monster’, the mob, and a suspicion of foreigners in general. Hall was
away from London, as a student of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1517 but
must have had ample opportunity to discuss the causes and outcome of
the riot with people who were personally involved. The version of events
that emerged suggests that his researches concentrated on official
channels, and that the Tudor regime was concerned that its own
interpretation of ‘Evil May Day’ would be the one left to posterity.
According to Hall’s explanation, blame for the riot rests, in the
first instance, with one man: a disgruntled broker called John Lincoln,
who attributed the ills of London’s economy and society to the thousands
of foreign merchants, financiers and artisans who lived there. At
court, some were said to have boasted that their favour was such that
‘they set naught by the rulers of the City’; outside, they ‘distained,
mocked and oppressed the Englishmen’ and their number was so great ‘that
the poor English artificers could scarce get any living’. Lincoln
sought to use the regular Easter sermons at St. Paul's Cross as a means
of airing his complaints. Dr. Standish, the designated preacher for
Easter Monday, rejected his notion but he found a more sympathetic ally
in Dr. Bell, a canon of St. Mary Spital, who had been appointed as
On that day, Bell began his sermon with an inflammatory rant against
the ‘aliens and strangers [who] eat the bread from the poor fatherless
children, and take the living from all the artificers, and the
intercourse from all merchants’. He continued with an argument familiar
to xenophobes of every age: ‘this land was given to Englishmen, and as
birds would defend their nests, so ought Englishmen to cherish and
defend themselves, and to hurt and grieve aliens for the commonweal.’
This apparent call to arms, according to Hall, gave courage to ‘many a
light person’ and ‘moved the people to rebel against the strangers’.
We should be wary of Edward Hall’s explanation of the May Day riot on
two counts. Firstly, the timing is wrong. Easter Tuesday in 1517 fell
on 14 April, whereas the first reports of substantial racial violence in
the City come fully two weeks later – a long time for any mob to
sustain its frenzy. Secondly, Bell’s congregation did not comprise the
hot-headed young people who were to be at the centre of disturbances.
The sermon was part of a series of lectures delivered by noted preachers
to a distinguished audience of Londoners. As Hall records, Bell
specifically addressed himself ‘to all you the worshipful lords and
masters of the City’.
Lincoln was amongst the first to be executed, dragged on a hurdle to a
gallows in Cheapside and then publicly hung, drawn and quartered, but
if this unpleasant man has received an unjust proportion of the guilt,
with whom should he share it?
Much of the blame must rest with a failure of government. Two days
before the riot, a number of young men of the City engaged in a series
of sporadic attacks against foreigners. ‘Some were stricken and some
buffeted and some thrown in the canal’, reports Hall. As the malefactors
were seized and jailed, rumours abounded ‘that on May Day next the City
would rebel and slay all aliens’. It was against this background that,
on the afternoon of 30 April, Wolsey summoned the mayor of London, John
Rest, to his home at York Place, and asked him about the threat. Under
pressure from the Cardinal, Rest promised to uphold the peace or face
the consequences if he failed so to do. He left Wolsey at 4 p.m. and,
within three hours, was discussing his options with the City’s aldermen
at the Guildhall. Should a militia of ‘honest persons’ be set up to
resist the ‘evil doers’, or an order issued for ‘every man to shut his
doors and to keep his servants within’? Their proposal, to institute an
overnight curfew, reached Wolsey at around 8 p.m. and his approval was
returned to them by 8.30, just half an hour before the streets should
have been cleared. And this, on a night traditionally set aside for
celebration. It was governmental incompetence of the highest order.
Unsurprisingly, enforcement of the curfew proved to be impossible. In
one incident, which may have been typical of many, an alderman called
Sir John Mondy, travelling home through Cheapside at 9 p.m., saw two
young men practising their swordplay, with a large crowd watching them.
He demanded that they return to their homes and when asked why, replied
curtly: ‘Thou shalt know’ and tried to make an arrest. Cudgels were soon
produced, and Mondy fled in fear of his life.
Despite Rest’s promises to Wolsey, the City’s government lost all
control of the situation as rioting escalated. Aside from the
courageousness of Thomas More and the panicked reaction of the
Lieutenant of the Tower, nothing was done to pacify the situation. As
Henry later told the aldermen, when they were summoned before him at
Greenwich to beg for forgiveness, ‘You never moved to let them, nor
stirred once to fight with them … you did wink at the matter’.
But attaching the blame first to John Lincoln, and then to the civic
authorities was a convenient option for Wolsey and the King to take. It
diminished, by implication, Wolsey’s own failings in the matter and
offered a route by which the sins of the rioters were eventually to be
forgiven. The Cardinal appears to have made no preparations for trouble,
despite the warning signs. He hastily reinforced the defences of York
Place, only when news of the disturbances reached him between 10 and 11
p.m. No royal troops arrived in the City until 5 o’clock the following
morning, when the Duke of Norfolk and his men rode in to make arrests, a
full two hours after the troubles had died down. This was not, however,
the version of events believed abroad. The Venetian Ambassador wrote to
the Doge that ‘greater mischief and bloodshed would have taken place,
had not the Cardinal, being forewarned, taken precautionary measures.’
Such was Wolsey’s control of information.
Punishment and Mercy
As we can discern it from Hall’s chronicle, the official reaction to
the rioters underwent a dramatic change in the days and weeks following
May Day. On 4 May, 278 men, women and children, some as young as 13,
were paraded through the streets of London, bound with ropes, to be
arraigned before the mayor, the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey
on a charge, not of riot, but of high treason, on the grounds that an
attack on foreigners constituted a breach of the King’s peace. For
maximum impact, 10 or 11 specially constructed gallows were wheeled into
position at various sites along the path of the uprising and, the next
day, 13 were convicted and executed with ‘extreme cruelty to the poor
younglings’. John Lincoln suffered the same fate on 7 May but others,
who stood with nooses placed about their necks, were reprieved at the
last moment, apparently by the intercession of three Queens: Henry’s
wife, Catherine of Aragon, and his two sisters, Margaret, Queen of
Scotland, and Mary, Queen of France. In reality, this abrupt change from
ferocity to clemency was almost certainly contrived by Wolsey and the
King to reassert their own authority, dissuading other potential rebels
in the short term and building bridges with the citizens of London for
the future. Much the same strategy was to be used by Carlos I of Spain
in the aftermath of the Comuneros rebellion, and by Henry himself, 20
years later, following the Pilgrimage of Grace.
At a splendid public ceremony in Westminster Hall, before a crowd of
perhaps 15,000 people, including the mayor and aldermen of the City, and
many peers of the realm, 400 male and 11 female prisoners were brought
before the King and fell at his feet crying for mercy. Their hands were
tied with ropes and halters hung about their necks, as if they were made
ready for immediate execution. Wolsey spoke at length to denounce, not
just the prisoners, but also the City authorities for their negligence
on May Day. According to the Venetian Ambassador’s secretary, Nicolo
Sagudino, he urged the prisoners ‘to lead good lives and comply with the
royal will which was that strangers should be well treated in this
country’. The lords then added their call for Henry to be merciful and
the King pronounced a general pardon. At this point, the prisoners ‘took
the halters from their necks’ and shouted for joy. Some rioters, who
had managed to evade arrest, expeditiously joined the reconciled throng,
pulling off their doublets and throwing up ropes that they had brought
with them for the purpose. It was a triumphant piece of Tudor theatre,
at once majestic, merciful and darkly threatening, re-asserting Wolsey’s
position at the head of government and the benign authority of the
nobility, and offering reassurances to a foreign audience.
By continental standards, London was not a city prone to violent
conflict in the sixteenth century. In fact, as a racially motivated
riot, Evil May Day was unique to the period. Its causes were deep-rooted
in the anxieties and frustrations of impoverished young people, who
saw, or imagined that they saw, foreigners given unwarranted privileges
and getting ahead of them, economically and socially. Xenophobic
agitators, like Lincoln and Bell, no doubt contributed to the overall
level of discontent but not to the extent that Tudor propagandists would
have us believe. The real spark was a hastily arranged and ineptly
managed curfew, compounded by a complete failure on the part of the
ruling class to intervene before events got out of hand.
As time passed, those groups targeted by the mob in 1517 were
gradually assimilated into London society, inter-marrying and bringing
up their own children as Londoners. Their place as ‘aliens’ or
‘strangers’, struggling to make a living and despised by a minority of
the native population, was taken – and still continues to be taken in
the twenty-first century – by new waves of immigrants from diverse
regions of the world.
The May Day Riots of 1894 were a series of violent demonstrations that occurred throughout Cleveland, Ohio on May 1 , 1894 (May Day). Cleveland's unemployment rate increased dramatically during the Panic of 1893. Finally, riots broke out among the unemployed who condemned city leaders for their ineffective relief measures.
The May Day Riots of 1919 were a series of violent demonstrations that occurred throughout Cleveland, Ohio on May 1 (May Day), 1919. The riots began when Socialist leader, Charles Ruthenberg organized a May Day parade of local trade unionists, socialists, communists, and anarchists to protest the jailing of Eugene V. Debs.
The previous year, Debs's Federal Court trial was held in Cleveland.
The event was also aimed at helping promote Ruthenberg's own candidacy
for mayor of Cleveland. The 32 groups were divided into four units, each
holding a Socialist flag and an American flag at its head.
International Workers' Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions
throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than
80 countries. It is also celebrated unofficially in many other
International Workers' Day is the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago,
when, after an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they
dispersed a public meeting, Chicago police fired on workers during a
general strike for the eight hour workday, killing several demonstrators
and resulting in the deaths of several police officers, largely from friendly fire. In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle,
following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international
demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.
Subsequently, the May Day Riots of 1894 occurred. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on "all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions
of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the
legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the
proletariat, and for universal peace." The congress made it "mandatory
upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May
1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers."
In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. In some circles,bonfires are lit in commemoration of the Haymarket martyrs, usually at dawn. May Day has been an important official holiday in Communist countries such as China, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries.
In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland
feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an
opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus he moved in 1887 to support
the Labor Day that the Knights supported.
In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated May 1 to "Saint Joseph The Worker". The Catholic Church considers Saint Joseph the patron saint of (among others) workers, craftsmen, and "people fighting communism".
Right-wing governments have traditionally sought to repress the
message behind International Workers' Day, with fascist governments in
Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers' holiday, and
the Conservative party in the UK currently attempting to abolish the
UK's annual May Day Bank Holiday
May Day 2010
Thousands of people across the globe took to the streets on Saturday
in annual demonstrations for May Day, the annual event marked by
demonstrations demanding better working conditions.
International Workers' Day, the holiday draws thousands to peacefully
protest. Others, as in Athens, Greece, clashed with police amid growing
anger over the government's stiff plans to grapple with the country's
About 12,000 people in Athens were on the streets, waving
red flags and at times surging toward a line of police, who wore helmets
and carried riot shields. Those disturbances led to injuries and
arrests. A satellite truck was torched and two ATMs, the glass frontage
of a bank and a car were damaged.
Russia, more than 2.5 million people participated in traditional May
Day celebrations in 900 cities and towns, the country's trade union
federation said. The largest gatherings took place in Krasnodar,
Yakutsk, Vladivostok, Izhevsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The people
spoke out in favor of decent salaries and stable employment.
this first time in 30 years, tens of thousands of union members and
leftist political activists gathered for the first legally sanctioned
May Day celebration in Istanbul's central Taksim Square.
protesters were detained after clashes with police in Hamburg.
Seventeen police officers were reportedly injured when confronting
demonstrators who they said were throwing rocks and setting garbage cans
Cuba:A throng marched through Revolution Plaza in
Havana. Crowds are usually big in Cuba on International Workers' Day
but government officials said the turnout was a signal to Washington
that the country is unified and supports its leaders.
United States:Several dozen cities braced for protests against Arizona's controversial new immigration law.
gathered in several Asian cities for its annual May Day demonstrations.
They demanded improved working conditions and wage increases. Clashes
between police and protesters were seen on TV.
Iran:Protests popped up at the Labor Ministry, where demonstrators clashed with police and shouted "Death to the dictator."
Just Google May Day riots and see all that comes up.
Watch the news....there are threats here of May Day Riots 2012
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