May Day in Seattle. The smell of sage and marijuana hung heavy in the air at Judkins Park, the rallying point for the march to stand for the rights of workers, immigrants and marginalized people. Advocates wandered through the crowd, seeking people to add their names to petitions. A gaggle of motorcycle cops gathered on 20th Place South, blocking off traffic by the Franz Bakery. Native American dancers spun to the rhythmic heartbeat of drums as folks trickled in from every direction, waiting for the march to begin.
The event was organized by El Comité and the May 1 Action Coalition in support of workers’ rights and in opposition to the undiscerning and cruel actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a federal agency that has worked in complicity with Washington state agencies to sweep up undocumented immigrants. Although May Day in Seattle has come to be associated with violence and vandalism, the goals of El Comité focus on equity and justice.
Hortencia Mercado held a banner for El Centro De La Raza, a Seattle-based organization that works for the Latinx community in Seattle.
The march had additional meaning this year as marginalized communities deal with not just systemic injustices, but blatant attacks from the federal government as well.
“It’s different this year because of the president that we have,” Mercado said.
Under President Donald Trump, immigration enforcement has widened its net. It’s no longer about who ICE targets, but about who becomes collateral damage, such as a young girl en route to surgery for a debilitating illness or a beloved restauranteur in Trump country.
Socialist Alternative, the party of Councilmember Kshama Sawant, came to stand in solidarity with march organizers and to push for a tax on businesses to fund homeless services and affordable housing.
Public showings like marches serve to keep the movement front and center and to give supporters a rallying point said Kailyn Nicholson, a member of Socialist Alternative.
“Socialist Alternative is here to encourage people to show up to City Hall,” Nicholson said.
Less than three miles away, the alt right gathered in Westlake Park. Patriot’s Prayer, an organization headed by Joey Gibson, who is running against Sen. Maria Cantwell, and the Proud Boys, a misogynist group that values Fred Perry polo shirts over human rights, put up an anemic showing, almost outnumbered by the law enforcement assigned to keep an eye on them.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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