Socialist Worker

Thousands strike and march in the US for migrants’ rights on May Day

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2552

May Day marchers in Oakland, California

May Day marchers in Oakland, California (Pic: Flickr/Annette Bernhardt)


The movement against Donald Trump’s crackdown on migrants leapt forward on Monday. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in A Day Without Us strikes and protests.

One of the groups calling the action, the Harvest Movement, had expected to see 400,000 people out on strike.

But Mitch Lewis, one of its organisers, told Socialist Worker that it was beyond their expectations—particularly in states where Trump won the most votes.

They saw large turnouts in “over 40 cities all over the country, including places like Grand Rapids in Michigan, Tulsa in Oklahoma, Wichita in Kansas, Memphis in Tennessee and Homestead in Florida. These are all in states Trump won, in some cases very decisively.”

Organise

Activist groups and trade unions came together to organise the protests.

A spokesperson for Women’s March in Los Angeles told Socialist Worker how two marches from different parts of the city “met at city hall for a rally”.

The list of trade unions supporting the day was impressive, “ILWU (dockers), CWA (telecom and communication), UE (electrical and general), APWU (postal), National Nurses United, and UNITE HERE (hotel food, casinos and laundries) are all partnering in the Day Without Immigrants,” said Mitch.

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In the state of Wisconsin more than 140 businesses were closed because of the strikes.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Black Lives Matter and the Fight For $15 campaign organised a protest of 1,000 people.

In San Francisco, California, thousands marched on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices to blockade it.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, protesters targeted a Sheriff’s Office where police had been doubling up as immigration agents.

The movement against Trump’s bigotry and racism is back on the national agenda.

Organisers are determined not to waste this momentum.

“In the short term, we are aiming to change the narrative about immigrants to one that demonstrates that we can’t be ignored,” said Mitch.

“We will be mobilising a week-long strike action in the future, and we will continue organising strikes and other non-cooperation actions as long as necessary.”

Protection

Mitch said their demands include “permanent protection from raids and deportation for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, the right to travel freely and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Harvest Movement’s Maria Fernanda Cabello summed up why people came out, pointing to the

disgraceful record of the Democrats as well as Trump’s attacks.

“After years of broken promises, raids, driving in fear of being pulled over, not being able to bury our loved ones,” she said, “Trump is just the final straw.”

Video round-up of the day’s events at bit.ly/2qnA075

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Last week, leaflets were distributed at the University of Texas’s Arlington campus saying, “A notice to all white Americans. It is your civic duty to report any and all illegal aliens to US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. They are criminals. America is a white nation.”

This comes after Kyle Chapman, organiser of recent racist protests at Berkeley, founded the street-fighting Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights. He described it as the “tactical defensive arm” of the Proud Boys, another “alt-right” group.

President Trump has been frustrated in his efforts to implement a Muslim ban. And a judge recently blocked temporarily an executive order that would strip pro-migrant “sanctuary cities” of federal funding.

But the number of people trying to cross the US-Mexico border seem to have dropped sharply.


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