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May Day Immigrant Rights Rallies Planned In SoCal

A woman in a hat and glasses, surrounded by a crowd mostly wearing green t-shirts, holds up a white cardboard protest sign that says, in Spanish, 'Construe Puentes No Muros (Build Bridges, Not Walls)
Silvia Rivera of Koreatown holds up a sign that reads "Build Bridges Not Walls" in Spanish during a 2017 May Day rally in Los Angeles.
(Leslie Berestein Rojas
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May 1 is celebrated in many countries as International Workers’ Day, often referred to as May Day. In L.A. and throughout the United States, May Day has become synonymous with rallies for immigrant rights.

This May Day in L.A. promises to be no different.

A rally and march organized by immigrant rights activists, labor unions and others is set to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway in downtown L.A., with marchers heading to Grand Park afterward. This year’s L.A. rally will celebrate essential immigrant workers, according to organizers.

May Day, while not largely celebrated in the United States, has deep U.S. roots and is tied to the labor movement of the late 19th century in remembrance of what’s known as the Haymarket Affair. This was a violent protest in May 1886 in Chicago that occurred as workers were striking for an eight-hour workday. Several civilians and police officers were killed.

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The focus on immigrant rights began emerging in recent decades, as labor unions and immigrant advocates began joining forces in support of immigration reform.

In past years, some local May Day marches have drawn massive crowds: In 2006, hundreds of thousands of people marched through L.A. streets in part to protest a stringent immigration bill in Congress, which was later defeated. Marchers also turned out in L.A. and elsewhere in large numbers in 2017 to protest the policies of former President Donald Trump.

Earlier in the pandemic, local rallies became more subdued but continued, including car caravans for social distancing.

May Day rallies are also planned in other California cities this Sunday, including San Bernardino, San Jose and Fresno, according to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, which is helping organize Sunday’s L.A. march.

What questions do you have about immigration and emerging communities in LA?