Hundreds took to the streets Sunday for the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights.
Hundreds of families, students and activists marched peacefully from the Central District to downtown Seattle on Sunday, calling for changes in the laws that make it difficult for immigrants to gain citizenship here.
The May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights began with a two-hour rally in Judkins Park.
At 3 p.m., marchers took to the streets as part of a police-escorted, permitted march to the U.S. Courthouse downtown.
An Aztec dance troupe led the marchers, burning incense and dancing to the beat of drums. Mothers and fathers pushed children in strollers down Broadway or carried toddlers on their shoulders.
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Marchers waved flags and banners, hoisted homemade signs and chanted nonstop: “Si, se puede” (Yes, we can), followed by “Black lives matter,” then “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Down, down with deportation — up, up with education.”
This year marked the 10th anniversary of large-scale marches that were organized in 2006 to protest immigration and border-control legislation.
Sunday’s march was peaceful and orderly, in contrast with the evening’s anti-capitalist protest that turned violent and left two police officers hurt and at least seven people under arrest.
Marchers for workers and immigrant rights were accompanied by dozens of black-clad Seattle police on mountain bikes riding on either side of the crowd. The march typically goes through the Chinatown International District and into downtown, but because of a Mariners game, marchers were routed down Broadway and through Capitol Hill.
Drivers seem to have gotten the message: Traffic on streets running perpendicular to the route was light.
Marcos Angeles Resendiz marched with a homemade piñata of GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Resendiz held the Trump piñata on a pole and bounced him up and down, then flogged him with a piece of knotted string, drawing laughs from the crowds around him.
When they passed in front of the police department’s East Precinct, the marchers briefly lingered, and began shouting “Black lives matter.” The precinct was heavily guarded and barricaded, with dozens of officers standing out front.
As the protesters marched along Broadway, people came out of shops or leaned out of the open windows of bars and coffee shops to watch and photograph the slow-moving parade.
Juan Jose Bocanegra, a longtime activist, led the marchers for long stretches. He said he has been involved in immigrant rights since the early 1970s.
“Latino voters are going to determine who is going to be president,” he predicted. Speaking of Trump, he said: “He’s going to help us get organized.”
Bocanegra said he wants unconditional documentation for all immigrants, and that he’s disappointed there’s been no action under President Obama for the last eight years. “It’s not acceptable anymore to not do anything,” he said.
Miriam Zaragoza, 22, wearing a Mexican flag draped across her shoulders, and her 18-year-old brother Jaime were at a May Day march for the first time. In previous years, they said, their mother wouldn’t let them go for fear of violence.
Both Zaragozas are students — Miriam at Central Washington University and Jaime at Everett Community College — and said they were becoming more active politically to give voice to the plight of those in the U.S. illegally who are afraid to speak out.
Miriam Zaragoza said she and other students plan to rally against Trump when he comes to Washington next week, either in Seattle or Vancouver. “For sure, we’re going to be at next week’s Trump rally to shut it down,” she said.
The 2006 May Day marches that took place across the country, including in Seattle, are credited with helping to derail strict legislation on immigration and border control.
Oscar Rosales was a student at the University of Washington in 2006 when he participated in Seattle’s May Day march. He remembers only one other rally to match it: The Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade in 2014.
“It was amazing how many people showed up,” he said of the 2006 Seattle march. “It was truly inspiring.”
In the years since, he said, the number of Hispanic and Latino residents in Seattle has grown. Many have moved from Eastern Washington for fear of deportation sweeps. “We have a more established community” in Seattle, he said.