Occupy Un-Occupies Its Own Strike Campaign

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Occupy Un-Occupies Its Own Strike Campaign
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Occupy Un-Occupies Its Own Strike Campaign

The next major action planned by Occupy Wall Street is a nationwide general strike set for May 1, and to promote it they've started producing a lot of great-looking works of propaganda that largely downplays the involvement of Occupy itself. The videos, posters, and paintings promoting the strike that actually mention Occupy tend to place it in the background rather than as the central component. Organizers say they're aiming a much larger audience than the folks who camped or protested in city squares last fall. "A general strike really needs to be general," organizer Joe Sharkey said. "May Day is a traditional day for workers movements and revolution, so I think that’s the main emphasis. It’s to broaden the appeal and not just attach it to Occupy. People have preconceived notions of what occupy is or isn’t." 

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The ambitious action, which calls for people to skip work, school, chores, shopping, and basically everything else, coincides with International Workers Day (also known as May Day), which celebrates the labor movement on the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago during which police opened fire on striking workers. There are usually a lot of protests and marches on May 1, but the nationwide general strike is an Occupy concept, first suggested by Occupy Los Angeles last November and organized nationally through sites such as InterOccupy, which arranges conference calls between Occupy organizers in various cities. Now a Facebook page for the strike has 11,600 followers last we checked, and the hashtag #M1GS has begun cropping up in strike-related tweets. Many of those tweets share posters and artwork that targets specific demographics, rather than simply promoting Occupy.

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Natasha Lennard, the former New York Times freelancer who left the paper to support Occupy, shared this fiery general strike animation from Sunita Prasad via her Twitter, promoting the event but no specific group, which should speak to the twee crowd:

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Rock poster artist R. Black, who's made many of the posters promoting large-scale Occupy actions, made this one that presents Occupy as a supportive bystander, not necessarily an organizer, of an event that looks a lot like a rock festival:

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Michael Caigoy, a film writer at the Buffalo Beast, kept the focus on history with a poster quoting 1960s-era Berkeley free speech activist Mario Savio, which should certainly appeal to activists of a certain age:

There's a definite sci-fi bent to a lot of the posters out there, speaking to the nerd crowd. Caigoy posted this modified Star Wars logo to his Facebook:

Occupy Oregon tweeted this allusion to the 1988 cartoon Dino Riders, inserting the Star Trek: The Next Generation catchphrase "Make it So," along the way. (Dino Riders seems to be something of internet meme.):

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood widely seen as the hipster capital of the world, this street-art poster has been popping up on walls and subway signs, promoting not Occupy but workers in general. The blog Magic Muscle snapped this photo of one at the Bedford Avenue subway stop:

Artist Eric Drooker posted this to his Facebook, referencing the Industrial Workers of the World wildcat symbol. The Wobblies, as they're known, made spontaneous "wildcat" strikes a favorite tactic during their active years at the turn of the 20th Century, and the symbol lingers, especially among labor history buffs.

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