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May Day Rallies Are Back. This March Focused On Essential Workers And Racial Violence

image of MAY DAY RALLY
Hundreds attend a May Day rally in support of immigrants. The march began in Chinatown by the L.A. State Historic Park.
(Teresa Borden
Courtesy of CHIRLA)
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After the pandemic muted May Day events last year, hundreds of protesters converged in L.A.’s Chinatown to march loudly to City Hall in the name of immigrants and workers rights.

At least another 100 vehicles followed behind the marchers shouting “si se puede!” Musicians from the Korean Resource Center banged traditional drums and Aztec dancers helped lead the protest which led to street closures along Spring Street and around City Hall.

Organizers like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights usually hold the annual event in MacArthur Park but moved the starting point of the march to Chinatown in a nod to the surge in anti-Asian violence over the last year.

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“We’re here... to rise up against racial violence, including anti-Asian attacks and everyday police brutality that kills Black and brown people,” said CHIRLA’s executive director Angélica Salas.

Aside from anti-Asian hate, essential workers were also top of mind.

Father Richard Estrada read off the names of those who died of COVID-19 while the crowd shouted back “presente!”

Lillian Cabral of SEIU Local 72 said essential workers “brought their butts up” for the community during the pandemic and deserve hero pay.

“If you’re an essential worker, you need that hero’s pay,” Cabral said.

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You need to say you are heroes. You’re no longer victims of your circumstances, but you’re victorious people that walk through Los Angeles, through California
— Lillian Cabral, SEIU Local 72 leader

Businesses have countered they can’t afford hero pay. The grocery company Kroger responded to “hero pay” mandates in L.A. and Long Beach by announcing several store closures in both cities.