Thousands expected in Chicago for May Day rallies, marches

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Thousands are expected to hit the streets of Chicago on Monday for rallies, marches and protests marking May Day, also known as International Workers Day. | Sun-Times file photo

Thousands are expected to hit the streets of Chicago on Monday for rallies, marches and protests marking May Day, also known as International Workers Day.

The event, which has its roots here, is also expected to trigger large displays around the country in reaction to policies proposed by President Donald Trump. More heated protests are expected around the world as unions push for better rights for workers.

As the day draws to a close in Chicago, throngs of people are expected to converge on Daley Plaza for a massive rally. They will be joined there by the Chicago Teachers Union, which had initially floated the idea of a one-day strike Monday to protest declining financial conditions at Chicago Public Schools.

The May Day events are expected to begin with activities at various schools, followed by a “March for Youth Justice” at 11 a.m. at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. Activities will begin to ramp up with a 1 p.m. “Rally for Immigration Justice” at Union Park. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is expected to be among the speakers there, as well as an O’Hare Airport worker and immigrants rights and labor leaders.

The Union Park rally will be followed by a 2 p.m. march downtown. Then, more than 20 people are expected to speak at another two-hour rally that begins at 4 p.m. at Daley Plaza. The speakers there will include CTU President Karen Lewis.

May Day, which traditionally lands on May 1, has been considered the labor movement’s holiday for more than a century. It was launched in Chicago in Haymarket Square.

In October 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions called a national strike for May 1, 1886, to push for an eight-hour workday. A few days after the strike – on May 3, 1886, at a rally in Chicago — police fired shots at protesters, killing two. The next night, in Haymarket Square, someone threw a bomb at police and a riot broke out. Seven police officers died.

Four men were later hanged. They hadn’t killed anyone but were targeted for being leaders of the labor movement. In 1893, Gov. John Altgeld pardoned the dead men and three others who were imprisoned.

The May Day focus shifted to immigration in the United States in 2006 when roughly 1 million people, including nearly half a million in Chicago alone, took to the streets to protest federal legislation that would have made living in the U.S. without legal permission a felony.

This year, organizers expect a boost in attendance as groups work together to fight aggressive immigration policies pushed by Trump. Organizers in Chicago say they want to see the legalization of all undocumented workers and action on climate change.

Contributing: AP

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