Tens of thousands across the country peacefully chanted, picketed and protested against President Donald Trump’s immigration and labour policies on May Day, despite a small pocket of violent unrest in the Pacific Northwest. Peaceful protesters flocked to the streets in Chicago. At the White House gates, they demanded: “Donald Trump has got to go!” But police shut down a protest in Portland, Oregon, that they said had become a riot, after marchers began throwing smoke bombs and other items at officers. Police said they made more than two dozen arrests as a group of anarchists wearing black bandanas and ski masks grew unruly. Several businesses in the area had broken windows.
Three people in Seattle were arrested, one for hurling a rock as pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators faced off. In the Washington state capital of Olympia, police ordered protesters to disperse, calling them “members of a mob” as some threw bottles, used pepper spray and fired rocks from slingshots at officers. Two officers were injured and 10 people were arrested.
In Oakland, California, at least four were arrested after creating a human chain to block a county building where demonstrators demanded that county law enforcement refuse to collaborate with federal immigration agents. Despite the West Coast clashes, most nationwide protests were peaceful as immigrants, union members and their allies staged a series of strikes, boycotts, and marches to highlight the contributions of immigrants in the US.
“It is sad to see that now being an immigrant is equivalent to almost being a criminal,” said Mary Quezada, a 58-year-old North Carolina woman who joined those marching on Washington. She offered a pointed message to Trump: “Stop bullying immigrants.” May 1 is International Workers’ Day and protesters from the Philippines to Paris celebrated by demanding better working conditions. But the widespread protests in the United States were aimed directly at the new president.
Trump, in his first 100 days, has intensified immigration enforcement, including executive orders for a wall along the US-Mexico border and a ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. In Chicago, 28-year-old Brenda Burciaga was among thousands of people who marched through the streets to push back against the new administration. “Everyone deserves dignity,” said Burciaga, whose mother is set to be deported after living in the US for about 20 years. “I hope at least they listen. We are hardworking people.”