Workers in cities across the U.S. took the day off on May 1 to protest the Trump administration in a national event that organizers hoped would be the biggest May Day gathering the U.S. has seen in years.
Amid promises by President Trump to increase undocumented worker deportations and strip federal funding from self-declared sanctuary cities, protesters viewed the day’s activities as an excellent opportunity to challenge the current presidential administration. Despite this common goal, each protester had their own reasons for marching.
Zeferina Perez, a 59-year-old who came to the U.S. from Mexico almost 20 years ago, said she wanted to demonstrate that American business couldn’t function without immigrant labor.
“We need to demonstrate to everyone that immigrants are important to this country…We only want to work and take care of our families,” Perez told the Huffington Post.
And Perez wasn’t alone. Other immigrant workers came out to demonstrate just how important immigrants are to both the U.S. culture and economy. In fact, many of the workers and businesses involved in the May Day protests were advocates during February’s “Day Without Immigrants” protests as well.
Imar Hutchins, owner of the Florida Avenue Grill, was just one of the business owners who closed up shop in solidarity with his employees in February.
“I support my workers,” Hutchins said. “We try to make our restaurant the best place we can for our people.”
The massive protest, organized by labor and immigration groups, came almost immediately after a climate march in Washington, D.C. the weekend before.
Almost 100,000 protesters gathered in sweltering heat on April 29 to demand the Trump administration take action against climate change. The heat — which hit 91 degrees, tying a 1974 record for the city — drove the protest’s purpose home.
Demonstrators chanted, “The oceans are rising, and so are we!” outside of the White House during the march. Considering that 15-40% of all dumped or littered plastic ends up in the ocean, their chant was particularly relevant.
But these two protests are drops of water in the nationwide resistance movements that have formed in Trump’s first 100 days in office. Demonstrators across the nation are expressing anger at the current situation and hope that the current presidential administration will listen to their pleas to promote a better future for workers and for the entire planet.