Demonstrators Unite Against Trump In May Day Protests

May 1, 2017
Originally published on May 1, 2017 5:42 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's May Day, and this is a year for May Day. The reason is President Trump and his rhetoric and policies. This May 1, which is also known as International Workers' Day, has seen a collection of liberal groups protesting alongside labor unions, women's health groups, people fighting for immigrants' rights. One of the bigger marches is going on in Los Angeles where, among others, former farm worker and now labor organizer Ignacio Pina has been out with thousands of others.

IGNACIO PINA: There's so much union busting and scapegoating going on right now that we are marching here for, again, the support of the workers and the support of the immigrants who make up a lot of that workforce.

SIEGEL: NPR's Kirk Siegler has been with marchers in Los Angeles, and he's with us now. And Kirk, tell us about what you've been seeing.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: I'm at MacArthur Park, which is a couple of miles from downtown Los Angeles along the parade route. I've been seeing, you know, mostly immigrant rights protesters, at least from my vantage point, coming by, chanting, saying immigrants are welcome here. They're holding signs saying stop the raids. Now, this is one of many large marches, Robert, from New York to Chicago to Seattle as well as in some more rural areas from New Jersey to here in California that are in very farm-dependent, immigrant-workforce-dependent communities.

SIEGEL: Now, the focus, as you say, is immigrants' rights. In 2006, there were May Day marches in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and those were seen as among the reasons for the failure that year of a bill in Congress that would have made it a felony to be in this country unlawfully. What do protesters this year say they specifically want from this protest?

SIEGLER: Well, Robert, so far I've been hearing that, you know, people, immigrant rights protesters, feel like the country has taken a big step back on issues since Donald Trump's inauguration. And marchers are telling me that, you know, at the very least, they want things to go back to at least what they saw was the status quo before the election and before the inauguration.

There's also a concern in terms of crowd sizes among some of the march organizers who told me that, you know, there are immigrant families even in a city like Los Angeles, which is heavily Latino and seen as more open or friendly to those here in the country unlawfully, that they may be in fact afraid to come out and march and afraid to come out in the open given the - what they say is the overall climate right now towards immigrants.

SIEGEL: The May Day marches today were billed as being similar to the women's march after the inauguration. Those protests were very large, very peaceful. There's a lot of anger in this country, though, and I wonder what the mood was like today in Los Angeles.

SIEGLER: There certainly is, Robert. And it was interesting being here in LA. This is a city that, you know, spent this past weekend reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of Rodney King. You know, there are - there is still some anger and anxiety lingering from way back then of course. But you know, being out here today, it seemed as though a lot of the frustration that we're seeing on the streets right now is not directed so much at city officials in local cities like this but straight up to Washington, straight up to the Trump administration itself.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler in downtown Los Angeles. Kirk, thanks.

SIEGLER: Thank you, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.