May Day protesters march in Chicago
Chicago (AFP) – Thousands marched Monday on the streets of downtown Chicago, in a May Day protest against the policies of the Donald Trump administration.
The marchers in the de facto capital of the US Midwest represented a wide variety of causes, including activists for immigrant rights and the environment, labor unions demanding a higher minimum wage, and supporters of reproductive rights.
There were colorful rallies before and after the two-mile march, with attendees carrying American and Mexican flags, the familiar rainbow flag representing gay rights, and signs such as “Stop the Trump Agenda.”
“The election of Donald Trump is a challenge to all of us, whether we will stand up and speak up for our values,” said US Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat.
Labor groups representing laborers, hospital and home nursing care workers, food workers, teachers and others, called for a higher minimum wage.
Abortion rights supporters held up sings in support of Planned Parenthood – the non-profit health provider which Republicans and the Trump administration have wanted to defund.
Police reform and racial justice groups criticized the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, including unsuccessful attempts to ban refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries.
“We have to come together and we have to stop this guy. He is not the king of the United States,” said attendee Oscar Cruz, 58, describing himself as a Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for 28 years.
President Trump has ordered more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, sped up deportations, and ultimately wants to erect a wall along the US-Mexico border.
“It’s criminalization of our communities, black, Latino, Asian, Arab, that is the problem. That is what we’re organizing against,” said Barbara Ransby, a professor at the University of Illinois.
Durbin said the challenge protesters face is to “take this energy and this emotion, and translate it into political action” to elect sympathetic candidates into office.
“That’s why we march today and many days to come,” he said.