May Day protests in NYC call for end to Trump’s ‘anti-worker policies’

May Day protesters gather in Foley Square in Manhattan on Monday, May 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin
May Day protesters gather in Foley Square in Manhattan on Monday, May 1, 2017.
May Day protesters gather in Foley Square in Manhattan on Monday, May 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris

Immigrant workers and their allies marked May Day on Monday with several rallies in Manhattan, resulting in 32 arrests of both demonstrators and counter-protesters, police said.

Most of the individuals arrested, 18 women and 14 men, were charged with disorderly conduct, according to an NYPD spokesman. All of the individuals were issued desk appearance tickets, except two, who were charged with resisting arrest, police said.

The majority of the arrests happened at the protest outside of JPMorgan Chase headquarters, at 270 Park Ave., police said. 

That protest and march, with a stop at the Wells Fargo NYC headquarters as well, was aimed at corporations that are “complicit with Trump’s hate-filled agenda,” organizers said. Both JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo were called out in a report at the end of last year showing their financial support for the owners and operators of prisons and detention centers. 

Other arrests occurred at Union Square, Washington Square Park and a few other locations, police said. Photos from Union Square showed at least two people being arrested by NYPD officers.

Topping off the day of demonstrations was the Rise Up New York! Immigrant Rights and Worker Rights rally in Foley Square, where politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and City Comptroller Scott Stringer fired up the crowd.

A few hundred people had gathered in Foley Square by 5 p.m., as a band played “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Misérables” and “America the Beautiful.”

After taking the stage, de Blasio told the crowd President Donald Trump has created division and fear in a “purposeful attempt to demonize immigrants.”

“Donald Trump has attempted to make people all over this country who are feeling economic distress … he’s trying to make them blame immigrants,” de Blasio said. “Working people did not create income inequality.”

May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, dates to 1886 when about 300,000 workers across the country walked off their jobs to demand better working conditions, most notably an eight-hour workday, per the Industrial Workers of the World union. 

But with Trump’s new immigration policies, this May Day took on a new tone in the city, with many protests tied to the president’s approach to the issue.

Stringer led the crowd at Foley Square in a chant of “No ban, no wall,” before urging demonstrators to stay united in their fight against Trump.

“We are in the same boat. We’re all together and we have got to continue the fight,” the comptroller said. “There’s nothing wrong with this country that one election can’t cure.”

While some protesters held union signage, others brought homemade versions with messages including “Teachers against white supremacy.”

Financial District resident Susan Cole, 72, said her parents came to the United States from Hungary, making immigrant rights important to her.

“I believe in this,” she said. “There should not be any deportation. This is crazy business.”

Mark-Viverito told the crowd that immigrants are the hardest working people she knows.

“You are the fabric of our community. … You are the fabric of this nation,” the City Council speaker said of immigrant workers. “We have a city that has been welcoming and embraces its diversity. That is the vision of New York City, that we work together, that we seek equality and justice, and we strive to that each and every day.”

Jenny Leal, 32, from Ridgewood, Queens, said she came from Mexico and is frustrated with the anti-immigration rhetoric.

“This is a country built on immigration. So why people see it as a bad thing, I don’t understand,” Leal said, adding it was important for people to speak up. “We should all be here.”

Protesters also rallied in Washington Square Park for the 6th annual Immigrant Worker Justice Tour #May1Strike.