COLUMBIA — They’re back, and not just because it’s warm out.
Occupy COMO took to the streets again Tuesday, holding a protest in front of the Daniel Boone City Building in recognition of May Day, also called International Workers Day. Occupy groups from New York to San Francisco have organized strikes, marches and protests for the occasion.
Dave Dollens, 69, stood on the corner of Broadway and Eighth Street, holding a placard and squinting in the sunlight. Dollens, a retired MU janitor, joined the Occupy movement last year in order to help change economic policies and bring financial relief to people who are struggling in the poor economy.
“We’re trying to get some change,” Dollens said, “and how you're going to get change in this country is with jobs.”
Dollens also cited access to student loans, affordable health care and a higher minimum wage as key issues that need to be addressed.
“I feel sorry for young people today (who) owe thousands of dollars on student loans and are paying nine percent interest, then they can’t get hired,” he said.
Dollens also wants to see more government assistance for people who have been hardest hit by the economic recession.
“We are the wealthiest country in the world, and to have women and children living in the streets, it just isn’t right," he said.
Critics of the Occupy movement have labeled the protesters “communists” or “socialists,” but Dollens just laughs when he hears that.
“I worked hard all my life and never took government assistance,” he said. “Now I’m just trying to help change something that ain’t right."
May Day began as a pagan festival celebrated across the Northern Hemisphere in mid-spring. The holiday originally celebrated fertility and was timed to coincide with agricultural timetables. It was traditionally held after the fields had been seeded, when communities could afford to take a day off. A common symbol of May Day festivities is the maypole, which revelers would dance around, swirling ribbons.
During the late 19th century, May Day became associated with the labor movement and was rebranded as International Workers Day, which is celebrated around the world. This holiday commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago during which police fired into a crowd of demonstrators who were championing an eight-hour work day, killing several people.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.