NYT: May Day tensions...
mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Mon May 1 21:31:27 MDT 2000
Tensions Flare at May Day Rallies Around the World
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BERLIN -- Far-right demonstrators rallied against immigrants and radical
leftists clashed with police in Europe and Asia today, overshadowing
international labor's traditional May Day celebrations.
In Germany, a nationalist fringe party staged rallies in several cities, the
largest one in Berlin. There, about 900 far-right youths with signs
demanding "work for Germans first" listened to speakers demanding the
expulsion of foreigners.
About 100 leftists blowing whistles and chanting "Nazis out!" gathered near
the rally. The groups were kept apart by 1,500 police officers. Police
spokesman Michael Kokert said 140 leftists were arrested or detained
In Hamburg, Germany, several hundred anarchists rioted overnight, breaking
windows and setting bonfires. Police used water cannons and armored vehicles
to clear the crowd. Sixteen officers were injured and 123 people arrested or
taken into temporary custody.
In London, May Day anti-capitalist demonstrations began today with peaceful
"Guerrilla Gardening" in Parliament Square, but the day turned violent when
a group of masked activists trashed a McDonald's restaurant and attacked
Thousands of police had been deployed around London, determined to prevent a
replay of last spring's city riots, which caused millions of dollars in
At Parliament Square, banners and a Maypole went up, and some demonstrators
strolled around elaborately costumed as rabbits, dragons and woodland
Although most demonstrators remained quietly in front of Parliament planting
seeds in the square, a breakaway group moved away toward the government
offices at Whitehall. When they reached a nearby McDonald's branch, they
broke all the windows, tore down the golden arches sign and distributed the
One officer was badly injured when hit in the face with a brick, said police
Assistant Commissioner Mike Todd. He called the attackers "mindless thugs."
In Paris, Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front party made its
traditional May Day march, and the rival far-right party called a separate
demonstration, parading in automobiles through the capital to protest a
proposal to give foreigners the right to vote.
Across the former Soviet Union, the celebration of international workers'
solidarity was a pale echo of decades past, when huge government-organized
parades snaked past Kremlin leaders atop Lenin's tomb on Red Square.
Russians grow much of their own food, and many used the holiday this year to
plant seedlings at their suburban cottages.
China marked May Day with few political activities beyond praise for 3,000
model workers. Most Chinese had the day off and headed for parks or visited
friends and relatives.
But violence flared in Manila, the Philippines' capital. Police used water
cannons to disperse hundreds of leftists who threw rocks and tried to break
through police lines in the direction of the presidential palace. Several
protesters and a firefighter were injured.
Leftist labor groups claim President Joseph Estrada has followed
pro-business policies despite campaign promises to side with labor in the
fight against poverty.
In South Korea, about 300 militant students clashed with riot police trying
to prevent them from joining a rally by workers in downtown Seoul. Witnesses
said the students scuffled with riot police, hurling rocks and wielding
The mood was more placid in Japan, where the rallies are usually more like
picnics than protests, but the country's near-record unemployment added a
sense of urgency. Unemployment in Japan rose to a record high of 4.9 percent
"We are determined to make the greatest effort to achieve stable
employment," Etsuya Washio, chairman of the Japan Trade Union Confederation,
told a crowd in a downtown Tokyo park. An estimated 1.7 million people
attended more than a thousand rallies nationwide.
In Cuba, there was a massive turnout for May Day celebrations designed to
add fuel to a national campaign to return 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his
homeland from the United States.
In Havana, hundreds of thousands of people crowded the Plaza of Revolution
for the first speech by President Fidel Castro at a May Day celebration in
many years. During May 1 gatherings in recent decades, Castro has presided
over massive marches of workers but has left the podium to labor leaders and
other top officials.
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