LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Los Angeles Monday to mark May Day and express their opposition to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
Immigrant advocates said they hoped the large crowds will get Trump and congressional lawmakers to rethink efforts to expand deportations and pressure local governments to assist federal deportation agents.
An endless sea of people marched from MacArthur Park to City Hall. There was no word of any serious violence. The crowd began to wane just before 5 p.m.
Selvin Martinez, an immigrant from Honduras with an American flag draped around his shoulders, took the day off from his job waxing casino floors to protest. “We hope to get to be respected as people, because we are not animals, we are human beings,” said Martinez, who moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago fleeing violence in his country.
The White House did not respond to requests for a response to the May Day demonstrations.
About one block from City Hall, a group of Trump supporters faced off with anti-Trump protesters. One man was arrested for burning a U.S. flag. Two protesters got in a scuffle. Officers pulled them apart and there were no arrests.
“We are being challenged like never before, and we have to step up to the plate and deal with the situation and offer some hope to the community,” said Juan Jose Gutierrez, coordinator of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition in Los Angeles. More than 115 organizations banded together, calling themselves the May Day Coalition, for Monday’s march in downtown Los Angeles.
Around the world, union members traditionally march on May 1 for workers’ rights. In the U.S., the event became a rallying point for immigrants in 2006 when more than one million people marched against a proposed immigration enforcement bill.
Since then, the demonstrations have waned as groups took different approaches on immigration, including lobbying and voter registration. But a massive crowd turned out this year as diverse groups united in their opposition of the Trump administration’s policies.
A few other marches also took place. The Workers World Day March started at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, and ended with a rally at Broadway near Temple and First streets. The San Gabriel Valley Sanctuary Coalition held march and rally that started with an assembly at Bassett High School and continued to La Puente City Hall. In Boyle Heights, a May Day march and rally took place at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Evergreen Street. It called for an end to deportations and attacks on Mexicans, Latinos and Muslims.
In San Francisco, immigrant rights groups joined with Muslim organizations and women’s advocates, said Roberto Hernandez, organizer for the city’s May 1 Coalition. A similar coalition has emerged in Los Angeles, said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
Several Trump supporters were also on hand, and clashed at one point with anarchists and anti-Trump protestors. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said his officers would be out in full force to keep the peace and arrest anyone disrupting traffic.
Since taking office, Trump has sought to deport more immigrants in the country illegally and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The measures have faced pushback from many state and local leaders in heavily-Democratic California, which in recent years has adopted immigrant-friendly policies such as issuing driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)