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May Day protests across the country demand dignity for immigrants

D.C. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee

D.C. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee

Originally published by ThinkProgress

Esther Yu Hsi Lee

Hundreds of activists, including immigrants, Muslims, people fighting to raise the minimum wage, and those seeking to stand up for other marginalized communities took to the streets of the nation’s capital on Monday to demand dignity and justice following the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to roll back their rights.

Activists marched 1.6 miles from DuPont Circle down to the White House while others marched from further away in Lamont Park in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in 82-degree heat. Protesters chanted “This is what democracy looks like. Show me what democracy looks like;” “Trump, escucha estamos en la lucha;” and “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!”

Since President Donald Trump took office, he has signed a series of executive orders to make life difficult for immigrants, including issuing a travel ban to prohibit foreigners from Muslim-majority countries, broadening the type of crimes punishable by deportation, and hiring anti-immigrant hardliners who want to see fewer immigrants in the country.

“I consider immigrants in my community to be my neighbors and my friends.”

Cheryl Moore, a member of the progressive movement We of Action VA, went to the rally near the White House to support her immigrant neighbors living in Virginia. Holding a sign referencing a message of friendship made famous by the genial television host Mr. Rogers, Moore said she was there to speak out in favor of immigration policies that include undocumented immigrants.

“We need to have some real work done that’s inclusive and respect people’s dignity and not just shut people out and build walls,” Moore said in regard to Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “I consider immigrants in my community to be my neighbors and my friends. They have the same rights and we all need to remember the lessons from our childhood that we need to be nice to our neighbors and inclusive and play together.”

Raised by immigrants in an immigrant community, the decision to attend Monday’s rally was easy for Angeles Solis. Holding a sign that read “Immigrants pay more taxes than Trump” on one side and “Fuck Trump” on the other, Solis criticized the administration’s immigration policies that have hurt immigrant workers.

Solis also said she was marching on behalf of immigration who are accusing a local D.C.-area restaurant chain of retaliatory firings. Five restaurant workers have accused Matchbox Food Group of terminating their employment without severance pay earlier this year when they took the day off for a similar “Day Without Immigrants” strike in February.

“Trump is emboldening racism and hate on a community that is fighting for a better life and has been the backbone of this economy,” Solis said.

Marching with Solis was her friend Troy Nevis who held a poster with butterflies on it. He explained it was designed to convey the message that “migration is beautiful.”

“I’m marching for one day without borders,” Nevis added. “It’s a waste of money. It is a symbol of hate and it’s never going to work.”

The rally was relatively calm, save for the small group of schoolchildren wearing Trump hats and shirts who briefly taunted protesters. It also appeared Trump’s derision of the media as “enemies of the people” had an impact on one of their adult chaperones.

A man with the school group saw a press pass hanging from my neck and immediately became aggressive as I stood nearby to document the rally. He claimed I was part of the elitist media and was someone who had never gone 30 minutes outside Washington, D.C. (I have.) After I repeatedly told him I wasn’t there to interview him, he asked whether I would write about him.

Nationwide protests against the president have become a routine occurrence since January 20. The May 1 rally in Washington, D.C. was just one of hundreds of events that took place across the country in honor of immigrants, people of color, and marginalized workers.

In New York City, hundreds of people gathered in Foley Square to fight for workers’ rights. Thousands also gathered near the Port of San Francisco, California where they held various signs calling to resist Trump’s policies. In Los Angeles, city officials had to pre-plan street closures as thousands of people took to the streets.

Read more: thinkprogress.org/may-day-rally-dc-cities-384736151a7d

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