By Mike Talavera
Revolutionary women’s organization Popular Women’s Movement-Movimiento Femenino Popular (PWM-MFP) led a march celebrating International Working Women’s Day (IWWD) which successfully took a stretch of 7th Street, a busy east Austin arterial leading to downtown, before police cracked down on the crowd and subdued two marchers and a photographer, handcuffing them. Undeterred, the march continued and proceeded to a local H.E.B. grocery store where a few members of the fascist Texas Nomads started a scuffle with march attendees.
Behind a banner which read “Unleash the Fury of Women!”, dozens of revolutionaries, militants, and activists had begun near the grocery store and had made its way to Parque Zaragoza where others joined, including a small group of young Brown Berets.
The women militants wore matching military hats and pants, with red scarves as masks. Large portraits of revolutionary women Rosa Luxemburg, Jiang Qing, and Comrade Norah were held high as the march made its way through the central East Austin neighborhood. Many onlookers received propaganda pamphlets from masked activists explaining the history of IWWD and why it should be observed as a working-class holiday.
Chants during the march included, “A woman’s place is in the fight! Workers of the world unite!” and “Working women give them hell! It is right to rebel!”
Leaders brought the march to a halt on a few occasions to make time for speeches which praised the historic struggle of the international working women’s movement, one that has been closely linked to the International Communist Movement.
“In 1910, the first International Working Women’s Day was organized by socialists to promote women’s struggle against capitalism and discrimination,” one speaker said over a megaphone. “Over a hundred years later, we women here in Austin, Texas, are proud to carry on the proletarian fight for power against class society and the exploitation of our bodies and our labor. We salute our women comrades around the world as they celebrate this day with us!”
A dozen police squad cars had followed the march soon after it started, but when marchers took 7th street the police actively started to try and block the march. Without breaking formation, marchers weaved and looped around the intersecting squad cars, maintaining their course down the street.
At the corner of 7th and Webberville, some members of the march noticed that one of the photographers covering the march was being put into handcuffs by a couple of police officers. March participants were yelling at the officers to let him go when suddenly several police officers charged into the back of the march, snatching a couple of militants and throwing them to the ground.
As the detained marchers were loaded into squad cars, the crowd chanted, “Abusive pigs deserve to die! Women hold up half the sky!”
After crossing through a couple more neighborhood streets, the march ended at the H.E.B. where marchers celebrated with sparklers and another speech. It was at this time that fascist Christopher Ritchie, Colin Whites, and Jon Colgin of the Texas Nomads confronted the marchers and tried to take away the red flags marchers were holding but were unable to. Pushing and shoving from both sides ensued until the police detained the fascists for their own protection.
Incendiary salutes the brave women and their supporters who defied police and carried out a rebellious march in honor of IWWD. PWM-MFP was the only organization to lead such a march in Austin, filling a void that has been left by revisionists and reformists for years. The march forecasts more great things to come from the burgeoning militant women’s movement.
We also ask readers to please donate to support the comrades who were arrested and facing charges.