After a peaceful march on a sunny Wednesday, demonstrators are departing from downtown following the annual May Day March for Immigrant and Workers Rights.
The 20th annual march began at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Judkins Park and wound by Seattle University and Seattle Central College before ending downtown for a rally at the federal courthouse. Several hundred demonstrators joined in the march.
The march disrupted traffic along the route and once participants began dispesring after the rally.
El Comite/May 1st Action Coalition, organizers of the march, said they anticipated 600 participants, according to the group’s permit with the city.
Although a handful of people in red Make America Great Again hats yelled at some of the protesters, police reported few problems and no arrests by 6 p.m.
What happened last year?
From a police and public safety standpoint, 2018 May Day followed a de-escalation of violence and vandalism that has marked the event over the past few years. By the time the march ended, police had arrested only a single protester — a masked man who threw a rock at the Amazon Spheres near the company’s headquarters downtown.
There were taunts tossed between the black-clad “antifa,” or anti-fascist protesters, and a camouflage-wearing crowd mostly affiliated with the pro-Trump Patriot Prayer movement and the far-right Proud Boys. But a violent confrontation between the groups never materialized, thanks largely to the heavy police presence along the march route and in downtown Seattle.
A similar police presence is expected for Wednesday’s May Day march, although there has been little social media chatter on unsanctioned demonstrations.
What’s the history of May Day anyway?
May Day has traditionally been a celebration of workers’ rights and is a day of mostly peaceful protests and celebrations. It marks the date of the Haymarket riots of 1886, when industrial workers in Chicago went on strike.
In recent history, pro-labor movements across the country have used the day to demonstrate for better wages and working conditions. In recent years, the day has been used by groups to call for immigration reform.