3 – Leap Day Action Night

By P. Wingnut

February 29, 2024 is Leap Day — how come it is not a holiday with the day off? Since it’s an extra day and only comes along every four years, shouldn’t we get to do something special and exciting — better than all the other days? The answer is yes — you can do something exceptional for Leap Day, but strictly on a DIY basis. The bosses, the government and other forces of wretchedness hope you won’t hear that since 2000, Slingshot has declared a universal general strike, jamboree, street party and be-in each Leap Day everywhere. If you’re reading this, you are part of the organizing committee / conspiracy and all you have to do between now and Leap Day is to talk with your friends and community, figure out a time and place to meet and what you want to do with your extra day — be it carouse, rebel, redecorate, enhance, promenade, engage, shindig, dissent or soirée.

The system is unsustainable — it’s crumbling around us while the environment teeters on the brink of collapse. It’s easy to feel gloomy and fearful. A lot of people are wallowing in doom, denial or resignation — which only decreases our chances for survival. Some of us yearn for a different world based on cooperation, pleasure, love, and harmony with the Earth, but it’s hard to know how to fight back or how to make a difference. You can’t revolt alone — the structures of oppression and destruction are designed to feel inevitable, unavoidable and overwhelmingly powerful. 

Someone or a small group of people has to take the first terrifying step off the sidewalk and into the streets to create change. The right time to revolt is right now, but the precise day is arbitrary. Revolt transforms those who make it. We were not put here to passively go along with the end of the world nor to aid and abet those who profit from murdering the Earth. 

In 2000, in the wake of the huge protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, some of us in Berkeley created what we think was the first Leap Day Action Night.  One tiny meeting organized to a night of mobile disruptive tactics with music blaring from a bike mounted sound system in front of banks and chainstores throughout downtown Berkeley. We carried finger puppets, not the huge puppets you sometimes see at tamer protests, because you can run while wearing a finger puppet. Confused businesses just shut down and the police didn’t know how to react. 

Leap Day 2004 saw decentralized protests in Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Manchester, England. In Berkeley, black clad marchers carrying a “closing” sign threw glitter, foam “bricks” and popcorn at dozens of chainstores and banks while using a pretty red bow to tie doors shut. The action was festive yet determined with no arrests. 

In 2012, right in the wake of the Occupy Movement, we had a funeral for capitalism in Oakland, complete with a real coffin and a brass band leading a procession through the streets to a dance party. The police had taken our camps, but they couldn’t make us love our bosses or the 1%. The 2016 Leap Night coincided with San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride — it’s hard to improve on critical mass. 

The 2020 Leap Day action in Berkeley unfolded right before the pandemic shut down all public events…. A rowdy downtown march with a brass band led by a giant paper mâché frog invaded banks that are funding climate change and left piles of compost. The march also handed out heart-shaped “climate solution” awards at cooperatives and Berkeley’s Bike station bicycle parking garage. 

We refuse to be consumers, viewers and objects to be managed. Let’s build a world that’s awake and engaged — shifting the focus from things and entertainment to firsthand experience. Life is too short and the world too beautiful to waste more time muddling through tedious jobs, polluted air, swaggering billionaires and endless wars.

Leap day offers an extra day and invites us to shake off our routine. The capitalist system, its technology and its distractions are fragile. Alternatives exist. February 29 offers an invitation. How do you really want to live? What would you do if you were living life like it really mattered? What will you do with your extra day? Plan ahead. Leap for it!

Email slingshotcollective@protonmail.com and we’ll send you free copies of a 23 x 35 inch Leap Day Action Night poster. 

If you want to help organize an East Bay leap day action on Thursday Feb. 29, 2024, email leapdayaction2020@protonmail.com.