Mayday march tense but peaceful

by Howard Apple­gate
    Near­ly forty pro­tes­tors showed up at the Ger­maine Town Square on May 1st to cel­e­brate Inter­na­tion­al Labor Day, and march to the Mal­san­to Agri­cul­tur­al Research Sta­tion in south Wilbur Coun­ty for a protest ral­ly.
    The event in down­town Ger­maine includ­ed speech­es by City Coun­cil mem­ber Willie Walk­ing­stick, and labor lead­ers from the Willamette Val­ley. Most of the crowd seemed to be his­pan­ic, and many were work­ers from McCoy Indus­tries green­house divi­sion.
    Accord­ing to Har­lan McCoy, own­er of McCoy Indus­tries, he gave the work­ers the day off. “They were going to take it anyway…” said McCoy, “I couldn’t see any rea­son to stand in their way.”
    Willie Walk­ing­stick, a leader of many past ral­lies pri­or to his elec­tion to City Coun­cil, spoke about labor his­to­ry in Wilbur Coun­ty, bring­ing up the spec­tre of Ansel Johanssen, a mem­ber of the I.W.W. lynched by a mob in 1913.
    â€œAnsel Johanssen,” said Walk­ing­stick, “was an immi­grant work­er from anoth­er era. He was an hon­est, hard work­ing man. His descen­dants are respect­ed mem­bers of this com­mu­ni­ty. These work­ers here…you…you have even more right to be in this land. You are the indige­nous peo­ple of this con­ti­nent. You are my cousins. I say, wel­come cousins.”
    The march, near­ly sev­en miles, went with­out inci­dent. Pro­tes­tors car­ried signs which said, “No GMOs,” “Mal­san­to Poi­sons the Food Chain,” and “Mal­san­to Exploits Work­ers,” among oth­er mes­sages.
    A small con­tin­gent took the ris­ing gaso­line prices as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to raise the issue of oil depen­dence. “Oil Econ­o­my = Death Econ­o­my” said their ban­ner.
    Rachel Valazques, a spokesper­son for the group, claims that “the world is on the verge of triple col­lapse. Ener­gy, ecol­o­gy, and the econ­o­my –they are all about to burst,” she said. “The only way out of this is to con­vert to alter­na­tive ener­gy and to stop this con­sumer orgy” by con­trol­ling cor­po­ra­tions who prof­it by it.
    â€œDon’t cry about gas prices,” she con­tin­ued, refer­ring to the lat­est U.S. oil shock, “Quit dri­ving your gas guz­zlers, and do some­thing to change things.”
    Not every­one inter­viewed on the street, though, looked kind­ly at the ral­ly and its mul­ti­ple mes­sages.
    “These pro­tes­tors are a dis­grace,” said Geena Rawl­ins, “…they’ve swal­lowed all of the lib­er­al lies about doom and destruc­tion. Glob­al warm­ing, peak oil. Crap. As for the Mex­i­cans, go back where you belong. Mex­i­co. Not here in the U.S.A. And if Walk­ing­stick loves ‘em so much, he should be the first to go.”
    Oth­ers, like Jasper Brad­ford, were more cir­cum­spect. “I don’t agree with every­thing that’s being said here,” he opined, “but it sure makes you think. We are a nation of immi­grants, and these folks are impor­tant to our life blood. We need to lis­ten to what they have to say.”

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