PRESS RELEASE: Thousands take to the streets of Seattle for the Annual May Day March

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MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 1, 2015

Contact: El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition,

ph: 206.650.2106 and 206.696.1348, em:  info@elcomitewa.org, Twitter Tag: #May1stSea, #MayDayPNW.

Thousands take to the streets of Seattle for the Annual May Day March and Rally for Immigrant and Workers Rights.

SEATTLE – An estimated 4,500 -5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Seattle to participate in the 2015 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.

The march swelled, with contingents 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 as well as participants who opted to join the march as it made its way through middle of the city. In all, over 50 organizations and community groups endorsed the 2015 march and provided the resources to mobilize their own members, in addition to others in the community. Organizations involved with direct mobilization for the march were Students for Farm Worker Justice, MEChA, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, and parishioners from St. Mary’s Church, the Mexica Danza Group Ce Atl Tonalli, and Community Alliance for Global Justice, among many more.

The march ended at the U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown Seattle. The selection of the site was very deliberate, as organizers made note to demonstrate in opposition to the U.S. District 5 Court’s challenge to the DACA/DAPA program, which if implemented by the Obama administration, would have provided relief and a temporary deferral of deportation for many undocumented students and their parents.  Likewise, also of note in this year’s March was the focus on police brutality with the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner as well as the most recent slaying of Antonio Zambrano Montes at the hands of police in Pasco, Washington.

“It’s important to acknowledge these shared struggles,” noted Anna Hackman, an organizer for the May 1st Action Coalition. “Many immigrants experience not only discrimination based on their documented status, but are also relegated to the social and economic margins. Many are forced into low paying jobs, and have interactions with law enforcement that closely resemble the interactions that native born people of color experience with police.” Many in attendance echoed the same concerns, especially in recent days, as evidenced in the City of Baltimore where institutional neglect and police violence created a sense of animosity and distrust that boiled over into riots with the killing of Freddie Gray.

According to organizer Jorge Quiroga, the march was a great collaborative effort, even with a slightly smaller turnout for 2015. Mr. Quiroga attributed the decline in participation to the proliferation of news reports about possible “infiltration” of the afternoon march. “We’ve had this march since 1999. Over 16 years, we’ve always been organized and nothing bad has ever occurred. My concern with the stories that the Seattle Police Department are spreading, is that it is creating a chilling effect on participation.” Quiroga further noted, “It is very deceptive, very unprofessional, and amounts to little more than fear mongering.” “It is an attempt to silence and mute our organizational efforts.” It is not known to what degree the effect of SPD media outreach is intentional, but one thing all organizers did agree on, is that there is a very real need to continue organizing in spite of hurdles or impediments. There is little room for error as organizers take it upon themselves to be responsible for helping better social conditions to ensure that future generations are able to live a dignified existence.

EDUCATE, ORGANIZE, MOBILIZE.

For more information, contact the following: El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition, ph:206.650.2106 and 206.696.1348, em:  info@elcomitewa.org, Twitter Tag: #May1stSea, MayDayPNW.

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About elcomitewa
El Comite is a social justice organization based in Seattle, Washington.

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