Monday, May 29, 2006

An Account of the Walkout - May 1, 2006

The May Day Walkout was a great success and a welcome break from Winnipeg’s usual chant-by-numbers activism that not only fails to, but AVOIDS rattling any cages. The mostly youthful crowd congregated at Memorial Park and all seemed to be in high spirits. By about 1:15pm the crowd had reached about 100 people. It was an interesting mix of local citizens, high school students, social activists and revolutionaries, which made for a refreshingly energetic march. People made their own signs with blank placards and markers that had been provided. There were a variety of banners, puppets, props, and other dazzling visual aides. After some brief speaking about the march route and other details, WPRM member Zaps did a short agitation piece about what Charging Bison was all about. This was met with a great response and it was clear that these people had an articulate grasp on why the weeks’ events were happening.

Most people seemed anxious as the march began, which really got things going quickly. We made our way down Broadway with chants that were a welcome break from "What do we want?[ insert cause here] When do we want it…" The days chants and shouts were far more radical, reflecting the mood of the primarily youth based march. "Not our country, Not our troops!" and "One solution! Revolution!" were among the more common shouted out not only by seasoned radicals, but especially by high school students as well, who were visibly excited to take part in an expression of resistance that goes deeper.

As we walked down Broadway, and towards the Provencher bridge, it seemed to be more of a party that a protest, as people joked and danced, even halting the whole march as one person stopped to tie their shoe. It was a great positive energy that is VERY rare at most events in the Winnipeg activist scene.

As we hit Tache and turned towards the base things began to get a little less light-hearted. People started to realize the army was right down the street. There was nervous excitement as we got close, not knowing what would happen when we got there, especially when it was announced that our march permit expired when we arrived!

The Radical Cheerleaders rocked some excellent provacative cheers towards the troops and the "human" wall of police in goofy trench coats, who blocked the 15 foot gate into the base. Even the soldiers seemed to get a kick out of the tongue and cheek attacks on what they have been trained to stand for.

Aside from the Radical Cheerleaders, the soldiers were completely indifferent to even the most on-point criticism of Canada’s role as an imperialist nation. This was very frustrating, however our message was conveyed clearly, with sincerity and conviction. After about an hour we felt that we had said what we wanted to and had made our point. We let the soldiers know that we would return, then began to vacate the base.

The event was surprisingly (and suspiciously?) under published, but was a great success anyways! The march drew a variety of different crowds, all united under an advanced grasp of what this type of training means. To see high school students and members from the neighborhood sharing this understanding is a great step in the right direction. This was not activism as usual, these people had a passion in their struggle, and they’re ready to change the world at the drop of a hat!


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