May Day Protesters March Against Police Brutality After Freddie Gray's Death

The annual rallies for immigration and labor rights, on the international workers' day, come just days after Baltimore erupted in riots and, more recently, peaceful protests over the death of Freddie Gray after his arrest.

Hundreds marched and rallied in U.S. cities on Friday to demand more rights for workers and immigrants — and an end to police brutality after several high-profile cases of black men who died after encounters with authorities.

Rallies were held in cities across the country, with some protests in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, turning violent Friday night as demonstrators hurled rocks and chairs at police officers.

Earlier demonstrations in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, to decry racism and income inequality were largely peaceful, but protesters who gathered later in the day confronted police, who attempted to keep them from damaging property and disrupting traffic.

In Seattle, police said black-clad marchers threw wrenches, sticks and rocks at officers in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood Friday evening, injuring three officers. Police responded with pepper spray and pepper balls and arrested 15 people. Several dozen vehicles were damaged, police said.

Portland authorities said an unruly crowd hurled projectiles and chairs at officers Friday evening. Police there temporarily closed a major bridge during the height of the evening commute and pepper-sprayed some demonstrators when a May Day march deviated from its permitted route through downtown.

More than 1,000 people marched in Oakland, California, with some holding signs saying "Racism is the Disease." Protests there remained mostly peaceful, but some people smashed windows at Oakland businesses Friday night. Activists in California’s Bay Area spoke out against what they perceive as gentrification that has occurred with the presence of the "tech elite.”

In New York City, over 1,000 people marched downtown Manhattan in a demonstration to "disarm the NYPD" following the high-profile death of Freddie Gray. Days after police arrested over 140 demonstrators, spurring complaints from activists and some elected officials, participants streamed through blocked-off streets, bearing signs with such messages as "Disarm the NYPD" and "Justice for Freddie Gray."

In Chicago, some parents brought children to demonstrations to teach them how to interact with police officers. Meredith West, who is white, took her 9-year-old daughter to the protest, where many carried signs with slogans such as "Police Brutality Must Stop."

"White people are not aware of police brutality that happens in the African-American community," she said.

In Los Angeles, thousands of peaceful marchers called for higher wages and immigration action. A dozen protesters rallied before dawn to encourage the implementation of President Obama's program to protect millions of immigrants in the country illegally from deportation.

A demonstration styled "Philly Is Baltimore" took to the Philadelphia streets Friday, days after several several hundred people gathered near Philadelphia's City Hall to protest Freddie Gray's police-custody death.

While labor unions have long led demonstrations on International Workers' Day, the marches got a boost in 2006 when stringent immigration legislation drove hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to rally in the streets. Since then, attendance in the annual rallies has been much smaller.

Some labor and immigrant advocates broadened their message this year to also address police brutality, joining a series of protests underway in several cities over the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Six police officers were charged Friday in his death.

In Minneapolis, the group Black Lives Matter encouraged students to leave school, and some high school students did. They staged a die-in that briefly stopped local traffic.

Dallas saw two rallies converge, one advocating for immigration rights and the other advocating against police brutality. Mothers Aganist Police Brutality marched after six Baltimore police offiers were charged in Freddie Gray's death after medical examiners ruled his death a homicide. The second rally was organized in support of the Texas Organizing Project, a pro-immigration group.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us