The protests, led by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, are aimed at allowing people to voice their opposition to economic inequality, political corruption, foreign wars and other issues that Occupiers are hoping to see addressed.
The other goal of the protest is one that is rooted in the strategy of a workers' strike, in which organizers hope to demonstrate to the world's rich and powerful what life would be like if the 99 percent were not around to serve them.
The protest's organizers hope that the strike will include so many workers that it will be exceedingly difficult for people to go about basic daily tasks, a situation that would illustrate the important of all the world's workers, and juxtapose it against the daily impacts the one percent have on human activity.
May Day is a holiday for the 99%. It is a day for people to come together, across all those lines which too often divide us - race, class, gender, religion - and challenge the systems that create these divisions. When we come together, we recognize the common struggles we face and the common interests we have, a description of the May Day 2012 General Strike written by Occupy Wall Street declares.
Millions of people throughout the world - workers, students, immigrants, professionals, houseworkers - employed and unemployed alike - will take to the streets to unite in a General Strike against a system that does not work for us. Don't go to work. Don't go to school. Don't shop. Take the streets!
Police departments throughout the world are bracing for what should be a boisterous day of street protests. The New York Police Department is particularly concerned about threats by Occupy Wall Street to shut down one or bridges and/or tunnels into Manhattan as part of the group's effort to project their views onto as wide a stage as possible and render them difficult to ignore. Occupy Wall Street has said the planned closing of points of entry to the island of Manhattan will be the biggest shut down the city of New York has ever seen.
And the office of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has said that it is worried about violence during the May Day 2012 General Strike protests slated to take place in the Washington city, as it has apparently seen a number of online calls for violence and information about how to conceal guns and target authorities.
The world has a long history of general strikes dating back to the ancient Roman empire. From the 1842 general strike in Great Britain, which was hosted by miners and factory workers to the shut down of Seattle during the 100,000-person-strong general strike there in 1919, the tactic has been used many times as a means to raise consciousness about issues of social and economic injustice.
For ideas about how to get involved in the May Day 2012 General Strike protests on your own if you can't take off work or school and make it to an actual physical event, simply visit this website, which has five different ideas for people who want to show their solidarity with the movement.
This YouTube clip provides a call to action for the May Day 2012 General Strike protests: