Thousands of protesters across the nation led marches throughout various towns on May Day, or International Worker’s Day, to demonstrate their different opinions on the various orders released by President Donald Trump on May 1, 2017. Unfortunately, some demonstrations turned out to be violent.
Around 3 P.M. in Portland, Oregon, a May Day March was held by hundreds of protesters. At first, protesters peacefully chanted and waved their banners through the streets, eager to have their opinions about immigration and labor policies heard. Then, a group of anarchists interrupted their demonstrations with violence that led to chaos.
Freshman Matthew Tinitigan said, “It would be cool to participate in the protests that take place during May Day, but it is risky because things can get out of hand quickly.”
The anarchist threw rocks, lead balls, and incendiary devices toward the policemen and crowd, which injured multiple people. Rioters tried to set a business on fire, managed to break a window at the Edith Green-Wendell Federal Building, and spray painted multiple police cars.
In order to try to control the crowd, police officers used gas and nonlethal weapons against the violent group of anarchists.
Around 4:30 P.M., police officers cancelled permits that allowed residents of Portland to protest, and ordered the original protesters to step away from the streets. The local police station even warned residents via Twitter to stay away from downtown Portland in order to prevent being injured or attacked by the dangerous rioters.
Police officers were quick to find and arrest the rioters because Portland had previous riots during May Day.
On May Day, a second riot occurred during a peaceful protest in Washington state’s capital, Olympia. Rioters that were described as “members of a mob” by policemen used sling shots to throw rocks and marbles toward police. The rioters even threw bottles and used pepper spray to try to harm policemen, but their protective gear was able to prevent any major injury.
Like the Portland May Day riot, officers ordered protesters to immediately evacuate the scene. Olympia’s police arrested nine rioters after they threw rocks at the protesters and police officers.
Washington experienced violence for the second time on May Day in the city of Seattle, but it was not as chaotic and violent. Two groups of protesters, Anti-Trump and Pro-Trump, that led marches throughout the city met face-to-face by Westlake Park and began to yell at each other due to their differences in political beliefs.
The argument between the two groups turned heated when a member of the Anti-Trump group began to explain her opposition toward the anti-abortion idea that Trump is popular for. Police tried to separate the opposing groups before things took a turn for the worse, but a protester threw a rock at a Pro-Trump member, which led to a small fight. Authorities arrested five of the fighters in total.
The Anti-Trump and Pro-Trump groups settled down after a couple of their members were arrested and marched for a second time around the city. After their second march, the two groups were once again face-to-face, but this time the groups did not quarrel. Ironically, the members of each group shared cans of Pepsis and cigarettes as they got over their differences.
New York also had its share of May Day Marches throughout the state. Immigrant and union groups united to protest against Trump’s orders, such as the increase in deportations. Immigrant groups planned a strike called “A Day Without Immigrants,” and encouraged others to boycott their jobs.
Protesters marched to Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase Tower on Park Avenue in order to demonstrate how those two companies “privately financed Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities.” Twelve protesters were arrested near JP Morgan Chase Tower as they blocked the bank’s entrance.
People who gathered around Manhattan on May Day listened to many groups that fought for immigrant rights. Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, was also found in Foley Square, encouraging the protesters to continue fighting for their beliefs and insulting President Trump’s views on immigration.
De Blasio said, “This is a purposeful attempt to demonize immigrants.”
May Day is not only celebrated in the US, but around the world. In many countries, just like ours, May Day is a day when citizens come together as one and fight for equality as workers, since it shares the same date as International Worker’s Day.
Before May Day grew popular with labor unions, it was a Pagan holiday that celebrated the nearing of summer. People would celebrate May Day with flower-themed musical festivals, like the popular Coachella festival held around this time.
Freshman Jonathan Mindiak said, “I have always thought of May Day as a time to dance around with flowers on our head. It is really interesting to know how people protest for their rights on this day!”
Depending on where someone lives, May Day can vary in significance. Some countries can celebrate May Day as a seasonal holiday or a day to go out and fight for their rights.
Should May Day be considered as a day of justice and togetherness or should it be considered as a day that divides people due to differences in beliefs?