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As protests become the norm, May Day loses its luster

Margarita Garcia O. of Seattle holds a sign as she marches during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018. (Photo by Jason Redmond for Crosscut)

Every May Day the same. Every May Day a little different.

Even in an 18-month stretch of constant protests, the annual day of workers’ rights has retained its near-mythical status in Seattle. 

Every year the same: a long, winding and peaceful march for immigrant rights that ends with speeches near a federal courthouse. That’s been followed by a tense and occasionally violent standoff between police and the less sanctioned protesters who have a distaste for capitalism and being escorted by officers as they march through downtown.

Every year different: amid heightened fear of federal immigration officials, this year’s march was framed as a specific rebuke of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with one speaker outside the federal courthouse declaring them persona non gratis” in Seattle.

Along with signs calling for fair pay and immigrant rights were printed demands to also abolish ICE.” One protester, Monserrat Padilla, floated from person to person, passing out fliers for what to do if one believes they’ve seen ICE. Sort of a neighborhood watch, but for the federal government.

Darlene Hadley of Seattle watches from a bus stuck in traffic on South Jackson Street in the International District during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle
Darlene Hadley of Seattle watches from a bus stuck in traffic on South Jackson Street in the International District during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights.

For Jenny Evans, Tacoma's Northwest Detention Center — a privately run prison holding undocumented immigrants — has forced the issue. There’s more of a focus on keeping families together,” she said, holding an enormous anti-ICE poster.

Traditionally the "anti-capitalist” marchers have been painted as the bad” protesters. However, with the addition of the southern Washingtonian Proud Boys” — a pro-Trump group of firearm-carrying men who purport to be enforcing free speech — has come the specter of a violent, inter-political clash.

But the fear of clashes, at least early on, were misplaced: both the anti-capitalists and the Proud Boys circled the city without meeting, leading to one of the smallest and least eventful May Days in recent memory. 

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Aracely Jamie of the group CaAtil Tonali adjusts her headdress during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.

People march down 4th Avenue South during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018. (Jason Redmond for Crosscut)
People march down 4th Avenue South during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
Zaria Smiley (L), 21, and Darlene Hadley, 21, both of Seattle, stop to watch before joining in the march in the International District at the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018. (Jason Redmond for Crosscut)
Zaria Smiley (L), 21, and Darlene Hadley, 21, both of Seattle, stop to watch before joining the march in the International District at the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
Preschool teacher Lauren Tozzi of Seattle, who says she never misses a march, waves to onlookers during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018. (Jason Redmond for Crosscut)
Preschool teacher Lauren Tozzi of Seattle, who says she never misses a march, waves to onlookers during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
 Individuals dressed in black, who wished to remain anonymous, carry a smoke flare and march in the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018.
Individuals dressed in black, who wished to remain anonymous, carry a smoke flare and march in the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
 Marchers make their way onto 4th Avenue South from South Jackson Street during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle, May 1, 2018.
Marchers make their way onto 4th Avenue South during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
Clemente Rodriguez of Seattle carries sign referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sign during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle
Clemente Rodriguez of Seattle carries sign referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sign during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
 Eric Zorrozua of Bremerton, Wash. dressed as Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a puppet of President Donald Trump during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle
Eric Zorrozua of Bremerton, Wash. dressed as Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a puppet of President Donald Trump during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
People carry banners as they march down South Jackson Street during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle
People carry banners as they march down South Jackson Street during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.

 

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People marching down South Jackson Street are reflected in a bus stuck in traffic during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.

 A sign protesting a new King County youth jail is pictured as people march down South Jackson Street during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle
A sign protesting a new King County youth jail is pictured as people march down South Jackson Street during the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle.
Bicycle officers from multiple departments monitor the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights as it progresses along 4th Avenue in Seattle.
Bicycle officers from multiple departments monitor the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights as it progresses along 4th Avenue in Seattle.

 

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As protests become the norm, May Day loses its luster