Protests For Workers’ Rights, Immigration Reform Held For May Day — A Commemoration With Chicago Roots

CHICAGO (CBS) — Saturday is May Day, or International Workers’ Day – and that means protests in Chicago and cities around the country and beyond.

May Day is not to be confused with the ancient European holiday that celebrates spring. For many Americans, May Day is the day of International Labor – a day to protest everything from workers’ rights to immigration reform.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, a rally was held Saturday morning in Union Park this morning. Participants then marched to Federal Plaza.

Several hundred Chicagoans, primarily young Latinos, turned out to demand immigration reform – calling for such actions as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, protection for the 5 million undocumented essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, and accountability from President Joe Biden.

“When I was 10 and in the cages at the border, Obama was president,” one activist said. “It’s been 15 years since then and now Biden is president.”

“It is time right now for Joe Biden to complete the Obama promise and stop deportations and bring home the 2 million deportees!” another activist said.

May Day, as a day to commemorate the labor movement, also has its origins in Chicago – dating back 135 years.

On Saturday, May 1, 1886, 80,000 workers marched down Michigan Avenue demanding an eight-hour workday with no loopholes or cuts in pay. Similar rallies were held in other cities across the country.

The Chicago rally picked up more and more participants as it picked up participants on May 3 and 4. They clashed with police several times, and on May 3 at the McCormick Reaper Plant, two demonstrators were shot and killed by police who allegedly fired into the crowd.

The following day, a crowd gathered at Haymarket Square, at Des Plaines and Randolph streets. The gathering was initially peaceful, but as the crowd dwindled, someone threw a bomb at the police officers who had gathered at the scene, leaving eight officers dead and 60 injured. Police opened fire afterward, and chaos erupted.

By Marissa Parra for CBS NEWS CHICAGO
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