Donald Trump took to the media to remind people of the May 1 “Loyalty Day” holiday, massive, nationwide protests against his administration have been scheduled. In cities across the country, groups ranging from human-rights advocates to restaurant owners are gearing up for demonstrations on May Day, the traditional date of labor-related protests marking the 1886 bombing of a strike in Chicago historically known as the Haymarket Massacre.
This year, however, the usual union marches have an added dimension: the unrest created by President Trump’s recent actions against vulnerable minorities, including immigrants, Muslim refugees and transgender students. “We’re marching to say no to the deportation, detention and criminalization of our communities,” officials at the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), an LGBTQ advocacy group, declared, “and we demand access to real, safe economic sustainability.”
The White House invoked Loyalty Day, which became a federal holiday in 1958, as a counterpoint to the expected demonstrations. “It is a day to show how our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it,” Trump said.
The President’s remarks were a sharp departure from his predecessor’s Loyalty Day speech last year, in which Barack Obama spoke of “making our society more just and equal.“
Equality is a central theme in tomorrow’s protests, said Hyacinth Alvaran, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Diversity Program Manager. “We support equal treatment for LGBTQ families, including the rights of Americans to sponsor their same-sex spouses living overseas,” Alvaran noted.
Immigration will play a “major role” in hundreds of marches tomorrow, Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), tells GBMNews. “As immigrants, our livelihoods, our futures, our families–they’re all in danger,” Cabrera said. “May Day presents an opportunity for us to remain vigilant, and not be silent.”
Maria Fernanda Cabello of the immigrant-rights organization Movimiento Cosecha concurred, observing that “we believe that when the country recognizes it depends on immigrant labor to function, we will win permanent protection from deportation for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, the right to travel freely to visit our loved ones abroad, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.“
In addition to protests against human rights abuses, there will be more traditional labor-movement activities. The Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United group is joining a general strike with its 25,000 members in the food-service industry. “To lift up the fight for better wages and working conditions for our nation’s 12 million restaurant workers, ROC is calling on restaurant workers, owners and consumers to participate in activities May 1, 2017.”
The organization said in a press release. “ROC United joins the May 1 Strike because the restaurant industry has the lowest paid jobs in America and is one of the largest employers of women, people of color and immigrants.”
Trump decried the American system of checks and balances in his Loyalty Day rally, held yesterday in Harrisburg, Pa. “It’s a very rough, archaic system,” Trump said, “It’s really a bad thing for the country.”
The President is seeking to garner support for his attempts at consolidating executive power, and has introduced a tax code which cuts the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, seen by many as an indication of indifference by the White House towards ordinary workers. Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined comment on Trump’s remarks during a West Wing briefing yesterday afternoon. Tomorrow’s protests include a major demonstration on the National Mall in Washington.
City administrations across the country expect “largely peaceful” activities tomorrow, according to the National Mayors’ Association.