WASHINGTON – In cities across the U.S., women’s groups, pro-illegal-immigration groups, anti-police “social-justice warriors” and basically anyone who wants to protest President Trump are flooding the streets on behalf of workers around the world on this May Day.
Spawned by alleged “threats” the Trump administration poses to working people and immigrant communities, a patchwork of labor unions and pro-amnesty organizations has coordinated what is expected to be the largest May Day demonstrations in more than a decade.
“There’s a real galvanization of all the groups this year,” Fernanda Durand of CASA in Action told USA Today.
Durand will lead a march of about 10,000 people in Washington for immigrants’ rights.
“Our presence in this country is being questioned by Donald Trump,” he said. “We are tired of being demonized and scapegoated. We’ve had enough.”
Following through on his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration, Trump has aggressively pursued enforcement of current laws in his first 100 days. He also has issued executive orders to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and banned travelers from six terrorist hot spots.
Arrests of illegal immigrants, both with and without criminal convictions, are up since Trump has been in office, when compared to last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Trump administration has also threatened to withhold funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” and other jurisdictions that restrict cooperation between local law-enforcement and federal immigration authorities.
May Day has taken on a special importance in light of Trump’s executive orders on immigration and his efforts to dramatically ramp up deportations, Ashley Yu, a spokeswoman for the Korean Resource Center, told the Los Angeles Times.
“This year specifically, a lot of our communities – immigrants, working people, Muslims – we feel like the current administration’s policies have been attacking us,” Yu said. “We felt it was really important for us to show up at this year’s march.”
Trump supporters who counter-protested a May Day rally Monday in Union Square in New York City were violently shoved, shouted down and glitter-bombed.
“They tried to push us out. Everyone over there, the communists, the SJWs (social justice warriors) – they’re all authoritarian,” Trump supporter Emily Smith told the Gothamist. “The minute we got up there to express our ideas in opposition to theirs, they just started pushing, shoving, biting.”
Smith insisted the counter-protesters were there just to be heard.
— Scott Heins (@scottheins) May 1, 2017
“We were just saying, ‘Go Trump, go alt-right,” Smith said. “We were like, talking to them, shouting at them as you do at a protest. I was just trying to get a feel for the crowd, and they called us KKKs, fascists, Nazis. You don’t even know a Nazi. We’re not Nazis, dude.”
Tristan, a member of the Marxist Internationalist Group, commended fellow May Day protesters for immediately shutting down “fascist” Trump supporters.
“This is May Day, this is International Worker Day, revived in 2006 by immigrants. We are not going to idly stand by as a group of people, alt-right or any fascist group, or any individual fascist tries to disrupt it,” he told the Gothamist.
“The entire crowd did a good job, just not giving them the room to even come here and say anything that is racist and bigoted and anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim. It’s disgusting for these groups to say they’re being oppressed, when in fact they actually oppress minority groups.”
The Trump supporters, many of whom wore “Make America Great Again” hats, organized the counter-protest on social media.
History of socialist protest
For some, May Day is a traditional spring celebration marked by leaving baskets filled with gifts and flowers on the doorsteps of friends. But for more than a century, it is has been known as International Workers’ Day, marked by demonstrations to promote the working class that sometimes are accompanied by violence.
More than 200,000 U.S. workers engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour workday on May 1, 1886, in what was supposed to be several days of protest. Three days later, a meeting that began peacefully at Haymarket Square in Chicago became violent when a bomb was set off, killing police officers who were monitoring the demonstration. Police began shooting into the crowd of protesters after the bomb exploded, killing four, in what became known as the Haymarket affair.
The Second International, a worldwide organization of socialists, anarchists and communists, blamed police for attacking what they insisted was a peaceful protest and proclaimed May Day a date of remembrance for the protesters who were killed.
In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared May 1 would be “International Workers’ Day,” a global holiday for labor to commemorate the Chicago demonstration.
To counter the communist fervor in the United States during the First Red Scare, “Americanization Day” was observed on May 1, 1921.
In an anti-communist declaration during the early Cold War, President Eisenhower in July 1958 signed a resolution proclaiming May 1 “Loyalty Day,” explaining it would be “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States of America and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.”
Like his predecessors, President Trump issued a proclamation on Friday re-declaring Monday “Loyalty Day,” calling on patriots to “recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles” that make the U.S. great.
“The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it,” the proclamation reads.
“We humbly thank our brave service members and veterans who have worn our Nation’s uniform from the American Revolution to the present day. Their unwavering loyalty and
fidelity has made the world a safer, more free, and more just place. We are inspired by their pride in our country’s principles, their devotion to our freedom, and their solemn pledge to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Trump called on schools to observe Loyalty Day and government buildings to prominently display the U.S. flag.
May Day is one of the most important holidays in communist countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea and Cuba. The former Soviet Union hosted large military parades on May Day during the Cold War.
In London on Monday, hundreds of left-wing protester wielded communist hammer and sickle flags and banners of Joseph Stalin while calling for “class war”
Six days before the runoff French presidential election, a May Day march in Paris erupted into violence as rowdy protesters called for the defeat of conservative presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Hundreds of masked youths threw Molotov cocktails and gasoline bombs at riot police in Paris, injuring four police officers in Paris. Police responded with teargas and resorted to clubbing some of the protesters.
Police firing tear gas on protestors pic.twitter.com/f7oixWVCiG
— Charlotte Dubenskij (@CDubenskij_RT) May 1, 2017
Rallies are being held Monday in at least 200 U.S. cities in 41 states in the United States in solidarity with the international communist community.
A number of companies are encouraging their employees to participate in anti-Trump demonstrations, most notably Facebook.
In a statement to KTVU-TV in the San Francisco Bay Area, Facebook said staff can use their paid time off to join a May Day demonstration.
“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”