For Immediate Release: Friday, May 2, 2014
Contact: El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition,
Thousands take to the streets of Seattle for the 14th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights.
Participants voiced the need for a livable wage for all workers and a cease to indiscriminate deportations that tear families apart.
SEATTLE – An estimated 7 to 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Seattle to participate in the 14th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Right. The events began at Judkins Park at 2:00 p.m., with a brief program that included music, speeches, and logistical announcements for the march. Participants then filed westbound, on Lane Street to start the March at 3:00 pm. At around 3:30, the march departed from St. Mary’s Church, with Danza Ce Atl Tonalli, setting the tone.
Despite a detour from the regular march path of years past, due to construction on the western portion of Jackson Street, the march still drew a larger attendance than last year. The march swelled, with contingents of groups joining along the way on Jackson Street and 20th Avenue, along Boren Avenue, as well as on several street corners along First Hill, and Downtown Seattle. Included among these groups, were contingents for organized labor and for a coalition of activist youth groups from the Seattle area.
The march concluded at Westlake Park, as thousands streamed in from 4th Avenue. Dr. Reverend Leslie D. Braxton addressed the crowd, speaking on the need to join as a larger social justice community. “We have the power, and the tools to work for what is right! When we join our immigrant brothers and sisters. When we join our brothers and sisters in labor. When we join our brothers and sisters struggling for a dignified wage. When we join our brothers and sisters in the Black community. In the Latino Community. In the Native community. In the Asian community. We will see a better, more just society.”
Councilmember Kshama Sawant also offered remarks on the struggle for worker justice. “It is your presence, your continued push, that has forced the city to acknowledge the need for a livable minimum wage. You made a profound statement. That we are not playing around, we are not playing around with peoples’ lives. Workers deserve more, and we say no, to deduction in wages for tips, and we say no to deducting health care from workers’ hourly wage. We don’t have time to wait while many workers live in poverty.”
Other speakers at the rally also addressed larger regional issues, with updates on the ongoing campaign by immigrants that are detained at the Northwest Detention Center. One speaker detailed the conditions in the Tacoma-based center, which include inadequate medical care, poor nutrition that is provided, unreasonable charges for communicating with family via telephone, and mistreatment and neglect by center staff in general. These grievances were what lead to a hunger strike in late February. The campaign for better conditions is ongoing.
There was also a call to continue the Boycott of Sakuma Farms products by members of the organization Familias Unidas por la Justicia in Skagit County. Workers have been in a labor dispute over work conditions and wage theft over the last year. They will hold a march for Farmworker Dignity on Sunday, May 4th in Bellingham.
The rally was also aided by the musical duo, Latin Rose and Jack Mozie, who performed at the beginning and conclusion of the event. Jack noted, “I’ve been fighting for Social Justice since the marriage equality campaign with Social Outreach Seattle. Together we worked on a music video for an immigration anthem I wrote that calls for comprehensive immigration reform that is inclusive of the LGBT community.”
“This for me was such an honor and privilege that I cried when Juan Bocanegra called me and asked if I could sing for May Day,” said Ruth Alfaro, who goes by the stage name, Latin Rose. “When I saw all my people marching and chanting for the same cause… It made my soul sing! When I started singing the song that I made for the Latin and LGBTQ community called Vive La Vida I got such a rush, this moment is what I was born for!…No more deportations, no more discrimination, freedom and justice for all!