May Day Protesters Demonstrate in Cities Across the Country in Defiant Show of Force

Theo Anderson May 1, 2017

Disunity and limited ambition are no longer options. (Photo credit: Theo Anderson)

The resis­tance to Don­ald Trump took to the streets, parks and oth­er pub­lic spaces May Day with a dis­play of uni­ty, diver­si­ty and urgency that reflect­ed the depth of the threats to social jus­tice posed by the president’s administration.

In Chica­go, for exam­ple, hun­dreds of peo­ple took part in the Resist Reimag­ine Rebuild Chica­go (R3) coali­tion ral­ly Mon­day morn­ing. R3 con­sists of a wide range of orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the local chap­ters of Black Lives Mat­ter, Fight for 15, the Arab Amer­i­can Action Net­work and Jew­ish Voic­es for Peace.

Our first meet­ing was pulled togeth­er right after the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump,” says Adom Getachew, a mem­ber of the Black Youth Project 100, also a part of the R3 coali­tion. There was a deep sense of cri­sis in our com­mu­ni­ties, and a sense that we’ve been fight­ing on par­al­lel tracks for a long time, and that the way we’re going to make a dif­fer­ence was by real­ly think­ing intersectionally.”

About 10 orga­ni­za­tions showed up at that first meet­ing. There are now more than 30. On the anniver­sary of the death of Mar­tin Luther King Jr., the group had a pub­lic teach-in and this is our fol­low-up to take that mes­sage into the streets,” accord­ing to Getachew. 

The vision of cre­at­ing an inter­sec­tion­al [cam­paign] was there from the begin­ning, and it was part­ly in response to the nation­al con­ver­sa­tion in which it was class over every­thing else, espe­cial­ly in dis­cus­sions about the white work­ing class,” Getachew said. We felt that the sub­merg­ing of race, of gen­der, of sex­u­al­i­ty, would just lead us back to places we’ve already been. And so we believed our vision of a unit­ed front would have to put for­ward the most mar­gin­al­ized voices.”

R3 is part of The Major­i­ty, anoth­er coali­tion that is pur­su­ing sim­i­lar goals at the nation­al lev­el by cre­at­ing new con­nec­tions between dif­fer­ent fronts in the resis­tance move­ment. Coali­tion part­ners include a wide range of social-jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions, like 350​.org, Fight for 15, the Black Lives Mat­ter Net­work, Famil­ia: Trans Queer Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment, the Nation­al Domes­tic Work­ers Alliance and more. It has spon­sored a series of edu­ca­tion­al events, march­es and ral­lies. On May Day, coali­tion part­ners took part in about 60 ral­lies in every region of the coun­try, accord­ing to a spokes­woman for The Majority.

In Chica­go, the R3 ral­ly demon­strat­ed its uni­ty with the broad­er pro­gres­sive move­ment by march­ing to join the city’s pri­ma­ry May Day ral­ly. In Los Ange­les, there was a sim­i­lar show of uni­ty among dif­fer­ent ele­ments of the resis­tance, with sev­er­al ral­lies begin­ning in sites across the city and con­verg­ing on City Hall. Some 100 orga­ni­za­tions signed on to take part — twice the usu­al number.

Oth­er resis­tance groups, in dozens of small­er cities, were also gal­va­nized by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. They protest­ed in their own ways. Occu­py Tuc­son orga­nized a march, for exam­ple, and in Cheyenne, Wyoming, there was a march to keep fam­i­lies togeth­er,” with exhibits show­cas­ing the strug­gles immi­grants endure, their sac­ri­fices, and their suc­cess­es through art­work and literature.”

In Cleve­land, a range of orga­ni­za­tions, from the Inter-reli­gious Task Force to the Burn­ing Riv­er Anar­chist Col­lec­tive to the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Musi­cians Local 4, formed the Cleve­land May Day Coali­tion and orga­nized a march to high­light the need to define what com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty means to us.” The coali­tion issued a state­ment that calls for an end to the ter­ror­iz­ing of immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, a defense of work­ers’ right to orga­nize and earn a liv­ing wage, a defense of the rights of women, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and LGBTQ peo­ple, and action on cli­mate change.

It’s an unusu­al­ly broad list for a May Day ral­ly, per­haps. But then again, dis­uni­ty and lim­it­ed ambi­tion are no longer options.

We all have to come togeth­er to make sure that we’re stronger,” Adri­ana Alvarez, a McDonald’s work­er and mem­ber of Fight for 15, said at the R3 ral­ly in Chica­go. It’s all con­nect­ed. There’s no eco­nom­ic jus­tice with­out envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice or with­out racial jus­tice. Now that Trump is in office, we fig­ured it out that we’re all strug­gling the same way. And if we come togeth­er, we’re stronger.”

Theo Ander­son is an In These Times con­tribut­ing writer. He has a Ph.D. in mod­ern U.S. his­to­ry from Yale and writes on the intel­lec­tu­al and reli­gious his­to­ry of con­ser­vatism and pro­gres­sivism in the Unit­ed States. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Theoanderson7.
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