Rallies for Workers, Immigrants' Rights Mark May Day Around the World | NBC New York
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Rallies for Workers, Immigrants' Rights Mark May Day Around the World

Police shut down a protest in Portland, Oregon, they said had become a riot, as marchers began throwing smoke bombs and other items at officers

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    Thousands of demonstrators came together across the United States to bring attention to various causes, including workers' rights and immigration policies.

    (Published Monday, May 1, 2017)

    Thousands of people chanted, picketed and marched in cities across America on Monday as May Day demonstrations raged against President Donald Trump's immigration policies. The rallies remained mostly peaceful but became violent in the Northwest.

    Around the world, union members traditionally march on May 1 for workers' rights. In the U.S., the event became a rallying point for immigrants in 2006 when more than a million people marched against a proposed immigration enforcement bill.

    Immigrant groups and their allies have joined forces to carry out marches, rallies and protests in cities nationwide, saying there's renewed momentum to fight back against the president's policies. They hope large crowds will get Trump and congressional lawmakers to rethink efforts to expand deportations and pressure local governments to assist federal deportation agents.

    In California, droves of demonstrators gathered across the Bay Area to draw special attention to immigrants' rights. At a rally in San Francisco, people blocked off an intersection near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office downtown. In nearby Oakland, at least four were arrested after demonstrators created a human chain to block a county building, demanding that county law enforcement refuse to collaborate with federal immigration agents.

    In Los Angeles, several thousand people waved American flags and signs reading "love not hate" as they marched downtown from MacArthur Park. 

    At the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles, two groups of protesters clashed, shouting at each other and waving U.S. flags. Some of the participants at the "March for America" event said they came to the site to express support for Trump's policies.

    "I'm here to tell the world that we have to give our president a chance," said Elsa Aldeguer, who identified herself as a Trump supporter. "If we elected Trump, why not give him a chance? It's only fair."

    Roughly 200 people marched in Portland, Oregon. Police shut down a protest they said had become a riot and arrested more than two dozen people as marchers began throwing smoke bombs and other items at officers. Several dozen people dressed entirely in black and wearing black bandanas and ski masks on their faces stood around the fringes of the gathering holding signs that read "Radicals for Science!" and "No cuts! Tax the rich!"

    Police also arrested people in Olympia, Washington. Officials said nine people were taking into custody after several officers were injured by black-clad protesters throwing rocks and smashing windows. Police in the state's capital city had ordered a group of protesters to disperse Monday evening, saying "the group is not friendly" and "this is a riot."

    Hundreds of people marched in Seattle as well, chanting "Stand up, fight back." Five people were arrested.

    Beside the West Coast clashes, most nationwide protests were peaceful as immigrants, union members and their allies came together for a of strikes, boycotts and marches.

    Organizers of demonstrations in Chicago said their focus was on the rights of women, minorities, the LGBT community and undocumented immigrants. The Chicago Teachers Union held a rally at Seward Elementary School on the city's South Side to protest a lack of state funding.

    Several hundred teachers picketed outside Philadelphia schools early Monday. Supportive parents joined the teachers, many of whom took sick days to protest. Schools were open and the district said it was working with principals and substitute teachers to make sure classes would not be disrupted.

    In Washington, D.C., labor and immigrant rights groups, along with some local elected officials marched to the White House to oppose Trump's immigration policies.

    "There’s a real galvanization of all the groups this year," said Fernanda Durand of CASA in Action, which led a march for immigrants' rights through downtown Washington. "Our presence in this country is being questioned by Donald Trump. We are tired of being demonized and scapegoated. We’ve had enough."

    In Miami, Alberto and Maribel Resendiz closed their juice bar, losing an estimated revenue of $3,000, to join a rally.

    "This is the day where people can see how much we contribute," said Alberto Resendiz, who previously worked as a migrant worker in fields as far away as Michigan. "This country will crumble down without us."

    He added, "We deserve a better treatment."

    In addition to rallies, immigrant rights activists in communities in Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas and elsewhere are calling for strikes to show Americans the demand for immigrant labor and immigrants' purchasing power.

    Meanwhile, Trump released a statement Friday declaring May 1 "Loyalty Day" as a way to "recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles" upon which America was built, calling on all government buildings to display the U.S. flag and schools to observe the holiday with ceremonies.

    "The loyalty of our citizenry sends a clear signal to our allies and enemies that the United States will never yield from our way of life," Trump wrote in a proclamation on Friday. "We are working to destroy ISIS, and to secure for all Americans the liberty terrorists seek to extinguish."

    Around the world, workers and activists marked May Day from Paris to the Philippines with defiant rallies and marches for better pay and working conditions.

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    Police detained 165 people in Istanbul as they tried to march. Garment workers in Cambodia defied a government ban to demand higher wages, and businesses in Puerto Rico were boarded up as the U.S. territory braced for a huge strike over austerity measures.

    In Paris, police fired tear gas and used clubs on rowdy protesters at a march that included calls to defeat far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. 

    Police clashed with far-right demonstrators in the eastern German town of Apolda, taking 100 people into custody before declaring the situation under control. Several thousand far-left demonstrators marched through Berlin, setting off smoke bombs and firecrackers along their route. The "Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration" was not registered with authorities as required, but police decided to tolerate the Monday evening march.

    A protester briefly disrupted the start of Havana's May Day parade on Monday, sprinting in front of marchers and brandishing a U.S. flag before he was dragged away. The protest was a surprising breach of security at a government-organized event where agents line the route of the march.