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In all, this year's May Day had a cultural, carnival feel of sorts: like an annual festival of unrest with music, performance art, and dancing.
The workers' solidarity day-a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket eight-hour day protests in Chicago at which police killed four people-didn't boast a huge number of unionists, although several CUPE locals endorsed the action. It did, however, have representation from a considerable roster of organizations across the labour and social justice spectrum-everyone from the Law Union of Ontario to No One is Illegal, OCAP, The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and dozens more.
At one o'clock, the day kicked off with remarks and the planting of a vegetable garden at Queen's Park north. Occupy Gardens, the group that fed hundreds last year from the same plot, but that lost its final harvest to a rip-up job by the city's parks department, led the initative. As five o'clock approached, masquerading demonstrators-at one point, we saw a crocodile; at another, a human-sized banana-made their way along University Avenue to Nathan Phillips Square, the day's point of convergence.
Within an hour of the rally's arrival at City Hall, there were an estimated 1500 to 2000 protesters on hand, a colourful, vibrantly diverse collection of groups and causes - to say nothing of the phalanxes of police, perhaps the only organization present to enjoy Harper-era largesse.
Demonstrators held banners calling for a Solidarity City, Status for All, an end to austerity and support for Porter strikers, later holding a round-dance in honour of Idle No More.
From there, the rally spilled along Queen Street, descending on a Joe Fresh outlet at Queen and Portland to honour the 433 workers killed in Bangladesh factories, some of which supplied the retailer. Demonstrators sang a chorus of Solidarity Forever-a commonly-heard song throughout the day-before swarming Billy Bishop Airport in support of striking Porter refuellers.