How big will the general strike be?

Workers of the world, don't clean your fridge! Artwork by Hugh D'Andrade.

You guys remember Occupy Wall Street, right? Think back. It was before Mitt Romney, Linsanity, Girls and Trayvon Martin.  It was a lifetime ago in news years — but tomorrow the Occupy movement may once again make headlines with the general strike, a day of marches, rallies, concerts and workshops held on May 1, in honor of International Workers’ Day. So what exactly is this thing?

Occupy organizers say it’s a call for people to drop out of normal society and take to the streets in solidarity. This means no work, no shopping, not even cleaning your fridge (long overdue for some of us). After what’s been seen as either a winter hibernation or a petering out of the movement, it’s a chance for Occupy to reassert itself in the collective consciousness.

Like some kind of anti-capitalist carnival, there are a wide range of events going on around the city tomorrow. Some are legal, like the rally and concert in Union Square, featuring Immortal Technique, Baltimore weirdo Dan Deacon and Brooklyn’s own Das Racist. Picket lines are planned around Manhattan, with locations including banks, Target and The Strand. Other actions appear to be for more committed activists, like attempts to block bridges and tunnels into Manhattan and a Wildcat march, an attempt at a massive unpermitted march starting at 2nd Avenue and Houston Street.

On a hyperlocal level, Occupy Brooklyn and Occupy Williamsburg are starting their day with a rally in Maria Hernandez park before marching through Williamsburg and over the bridge to Manhattan. LaunchPad is hosting Brooklyn Skillshare’s “Building Alternatives to Capitalism Day,” an all day workshop where you can learn your rights when dealing with police AND how to sew your own reusable bag.

It’s an open question as to how many people will actually come out and how many it will take to judge the day a success. I met someone handing out flyers about the strike this weekend, and he sounded confident that “tens of thousands” of people would be in the streets. An impressive list of unions have come aboard after initial speculation that they wouldn’t. Still, asking a population that’s made an art out of holding down two jobs and already works at making commerce hyperlocal to put it all aside for a day could be a hard sell. Especially after months out of the spotlight and a weather forecast that puts the chance of rain at fifty percent.

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