Along with being a traditional celebration of spring, May 1 has long been a day of protest. But local organizers are expecting May Day marches this year to see boosted attendance fueled by President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“We are expecting a bigger crowd this year,” said Mario Garcia Sierra, a member of Voces de La Frontera, one of the participating protest organizations. “We have this administration that really wants to set one of the priorities to divide families across the nation and throughout the state.”
In Madison, there will be a “Day Without Immigrants and Refugees” rally. The theme of the event is “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
The event is “against Trump's policies and rhetoric of hate and division,” with a comprehensive list of demands that include an end to deportation, a $15 minimum wage, quality housing and amnesty for all immigrants.
May Day has deep protest roots. The International Socialist Conference declared May 1 International Workers Day in 1889 to commemorate Chicago's Haymarket Affair, a strike for worker's rights, including an eight-hour workday.
In Madison on Monday, activities will start with a march, which will gather in Brittingham Park at 11 a.m. and start marching towards the Capitol building at 11:30 a.m.
Students are invited to gather at the UW-Madison Library Mall at 11 a.m. and also make their way to the Capitol.
At noon, speakers including Jorge Carrera of the Immigrant Workers Union, Mary Bell of the Interfaith Coalition for Workers Justice and Berenice Sanchez of "Latinos Parent United," will address the crowd. The Raging Grannies of Madison, First Wave artist Cortez de la Cruz and other local artists will perform.
The event has been endorsed by over 25 organizations, including the Immigrant Workers Union, Industrial Workers of the World, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin, International Marxist Tendency; International Socialist Organization and Mad City Anti-Racist Action, Socialist Alternative.
Alex Gilles with Union de Trabajadores Immigrantes, one of the main organizers of the event, said he didn't know how many people would participate. While previous years have seen hundreds of protesters, he wouldn't be surprised if thousands showed up this year.
"People are really worried in the community, and most people are pretty sympathetic to our cause," he said.
Events after the rally include:
- Benefit for Union de Trabajadores Immigrantes featuring Rodrigo Carapia, an artist from Mexico who will display his art Yellow Rose Gallery at 122 State St.
- International Workers' Day Teach-In: International Socialist Organization-Madison is offering a time to learn about the history of May Day and plan for the future with a panel of activists at 7 p.m. in the UW Educational Sciences Building.
Several local events leading up to May Day include:
- Marshal training: The Industrial Workers of the World General Defense Committee is providing picket training and planning strategy on Saturday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer St.
- May Day Commemoration and Sing-A-Long: The Madison General Membership Branch (GMB) of the Industrial Workers of the World will host the annual sing-a-long on Sunday, April 30 at 3 p.m. at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center. Song books and snack provided.
For those looking to participate in a larger event, Voces de la Frontera is organizing a general strike and march in Milwaukee as part of a movement titled “Day without Latinxs, Immigrants and Refugees.”
It’s also protesting anti-immigrant legislation, but more specifically wants to prevent Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke from implementing Section 287(g), which creates a partnership between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Buses to the march will be leaving Madison from Centro Hispano at 810 West Badger Road at 9 a.m. Monday.
Participants are being bussed in from 11 cities across the state, and Voces expects tens of thousands of people, and is looking for statewide participation.
The march will start at the Voces offices at 1027 S. 5th Street and make its way to the Milwaukee County Courthouse to protest anti-immigrant policies.
The event is in partnership with 29 organizations, including The Food Chain Workers Alliance, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, National GuestWorker Alliance, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network.