Heavy Police Presence on Wall Street in Anticipation of May Day Protests

Demonstrators are supporting amnesty for undocumented workers around the world.
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Hundreds of New York City police officers fanned out from Union Square to the Financial District on Monday as demonstrators supporting amnesty for undocumented workers planned to mark May Day with a march to City Hall.

Armed but not wearing riot gear, police guarded the entrances to several Wall Street landmarks, including the

New York Stock Exchange

. They were anticipating a crowd of what several officers called the "

World Trade Organization

people."

They were referring to the occasionally violent demonstration in Seattle late last year and a more peaceful one in Washington, D.C. last month. At both events, demonstrators protested corporate globalization, calling it detrimental to the interests of workers and the environment.

Police named their operation May Day 2000 after the holiday celebrated in many countries as International Day of the Worker. Demonstrators listed recognition of that holiday in the U.S. among their causes, alongside "legal residency for all undocumented workers; fair wages with paid overtime and paid vacations; a humane, livable 8-hour workday; decent, affordable housing; education for us and our children; free health service for all; no more police brutality," according to the Web site

mayday2000.org.

Calling themselves

The National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants

, the organizers comprised representatives of the

Latino Workers Center

,

Garment Workers Solidarity Center

and

Asociocion Tepeyac

, an organization of around 40 neighborhood groups.

After the march, plans called for demonstrations targeting the exchange as well as banks and "sweatshops." Kimberly Williams, spokeswoman for the New York Stock Exchange, declined to comment on security precautions.

A so-called guerilla gardening event was to follow around 5 p.m. EDT. Since the early 1980s, environmentalist demonstrators have marked May 1 by planting flora in areas of the city not already occupied by concrete. The city shut down several neighborhood gardens last year.

Last month, demonstrators in Washington attempted to block the annual spring planning meetings held by the

World Bank

and the

International Monetary Fund,

global lending institutions to developing and impoverished countries

In Seattle, demonstrators targeted the World Trade Organization, a 136-nation Geneva-based organization that decides the rules of global commerce.

The May Day holiday brought marches and scattered violence around the world, the

Associated Press

reported. According to the

AP

:

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder shouted down a group of young protesters at a May Day union rally as he renewed his pledge to slash joblessness. Neo-Nazis fought antifascist protesters in the German capital Berlin and leftists clashed with police in Hamburg.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions , which is critical of President Robert Mugabe's policies, urged workers to stay at home, "think deeply, and pray for peace". It was the first time May Day rallies had been cancelled since Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980.

Some 7,000 mostly elderly Bulgarians, many of them supporters of the largely ex-communist Socialist Party, rallied in Sofia to protest against poverty and what they called the corruption of the center-right government.

China saw mass pilgrimages to holiday spots after the government declared the whole week a holiday in a move intended to stimulate consumer spending.

British police stepped up security and braced for possible trouble as anticapitalists planned protests in central London.

Pope John Paul, in a May Day mass, said: "Globalization of finance, of the economy, of commerce and of work should never be allowed to violate the dignity and centrality of the human person or the democracy of peoples."

In Slovakia, hundreds of supporters of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar protested against criminal investigations launched against him as well as high unemployment.

About 500 Lebanese workers marched through the streets of Beirut, demanding better pay, job security and priority for Lebanese over foreign workers.