May Day march organizers hope peaceful, non-violent demonstrations continue in future
SEATTLE - Organizers of this year’s annual May Day immigrant and workers’ rights rally blame a form of protest fatigue for the dwindling numbers in Tuesday’s march into downtown.
The march, which featured dancers and drummers, families and dogs as well as a mix of protesters dressed in all black and masks, was the main event during the city’s May Day festivities – something that hasn’t been the case in the past.
May Day in recent years has been full of clashes with Seattle police, arrests and property damage. In 2016, several officers were injured and nine were arrested – the city spent nearly a half a million dollars in staffing.
Cariño Barragan, from Casa Latina said the chaos and property destruction in the past has “been a distraction” from the real purpose of May Day.
“For us May Day is a day to celebrate workers, to celebrate immigrant rights,” Barragan said. “The messages got out about workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, about justice and dignity.”
Joey Gibson, who spoke at a Patriot Prayer rally in Westlake Park on Tuesday, believes a “change in culture” has changed the tactics of the “black bloc” – who police have linked to past property damage and rioting on May Day.
“They don’t want their people burning down buildings and small businesses,” said Gibson, who running for Senate.
While police from across the region followed the immigration and workers’ rights march from Judkins Park to Second Avenue and Spring Street, officers kept their distance. There were no arrests at the march; the one arrest was near Amazon.
Aric Rhue and his team prepped corporate meals in a warehouse near the Little Saigon neighborhood as the march went past their front doors.
“People came up to us like ‘Hey, just let us know if there’s any kind of raids going on’ and that’s really, really awesome. At least know your rights,” he said. “It was actually really chill.”
But Jorge Quiroga, with El Comite, which organized the march, wasn’t happy about the low turnout numbers.
People are totally demoralized. We’ve gotten so many promises and we’re back at the beginning. We’ve been waiting for 30 years for an immigration reform.”