May Day rallies held in Bay Area for worker rights

- Thousands of workers and activists from across the Bay Area marched Monday in honor of International Workers Day, also known as May Day, and to support immigrant rights.

Large crowds of supporters gathered throughout the region, including in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.   

Activists from various organizations, including the Chinese Progressive Association, gathered outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at 630 Sansome St. in San Francisco. 

Crowd takes to Market Street in San Francisco

Nearly 3,000 people celebrated May Day in San Francisco Monday with a noontime march on Market Street. The crowd initially gathered at Justin Herman Plaza for an 11 a.m. rally before walking up Market to Civic Center Plaza for another round of speeches and entertainment.

Participants took the day off from work or school to march in honor of workers' rights worldwide. This year, however, the focus was clearly on immigrant rights.

"I'm here to support everyone who's an immigrant!" yelled Karen Sanchez, as she marched up Market Street carrying a pro-immigrant sign. The teen skipped school in order to attend the protest.

"Without [immigrants] who's going to pick crops? Who's going to pick fruits? I mean, without them, America's not going to be that great!"

"Since Trump took office, people are scared," said Maria Villalta of San Francisco. "They don't want to come to rallies like this because they are afraid of (being) criminalized by police or immigration."

Protesters carried signs that read "no ban" and "no wall", aimed at what they consider to be anti-immigration policies espoused by the Trump administration.

"We've been targeted by Donald Trump from day one but I think we are organized and we are not afraid of him," said Ahmed Abobayz, born in Yemen and now lives in San Francisco. Abobayz helped organize the San Francisco May Day rally.

"The most imp thing is that we all are accepted, you know," said Abraham Celio, who was visiting from Chicago. "I come from a family of immigrants."

The married father of who has a daughter said he was born in the United States but his seven brothers are from Mexico. With his mother's encouragement, he said all of them studied hard in order to have successful careers.

"Our families come here to this country to make a difference to make something for ourselves and you know there are many of us that are here that are proving that," Celio said.

San Jose May Day

About 3,000 labor and immigrant rights activists marched from Cesar Chavez's stomping grounds in East San Jose to a park downtown for the city's annual May Day rally this afternoon. 

Hundreds of tech industry employees, were expected to turn out for a May Day rally. The event will take place at 1 p.m. at Mexican Heritage Plaza at 1700 Alum Rock Ave. Details and updates on the event can be found at  https://www.facebook.com/events/718470045001324/?active--tab=discussion

In Concord, activists have scheduled a May Day rally and march to begin at 4 p.m. at Meadow Homes Park at 1351 Detroit Ave. Participants will rally to defend immigrant rights and to call on city leaders to make Concord a sanctuary city. 

Activists arrested in Oakland

Four activists were arrested today for blocking the entrance to the Alameda County administration building in Oakland and climbing to its second-floor roof to unfurl a large banner protesting the county's collaboration with immigration authorities, sheriff's officials said.

Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said the four people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing for breaching the building's security.

"We tolerate people making noise and protesting but not trespassing or breaking the law," Kelly said.

Isaac Ontiveros of Oakland Sin Fronteras (Oakland Without Borders), one of several groups involved in today's action, said protesters blocked the building at 8 a.m. today and some activists climbed to the roof to unfurl a 20-foot-long banner that said, "What Does Sanctuary Look Like?"

Ontiveros said the approximately 150 protesters who came to the building are protesting Sheriff Gregory Ahern's collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the sheriff's annual training program called Urban Shield and what he said was the county's plan to expand Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

However, Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi said at a Board of Supervisors hearing last year that the county's improvement program at Santa Rita isn't really an expansion program because the jail will wind up with 18 fewer beds than it currently has.

The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

 

Protesters formed a line to try to block the main entrance to the county building on Oak Street but left shortly after 11 a.m.

Kelly said sheriff's deputies had warned the protesters that more people would be arrested if they didn't stop trying to block the entrance by 11 a.m.

A large number of sheriff's deputies guarded both the outside and inside of the county building and allowed small groups of people to come and go, even though the protesters were trying to block the entrances.

A large number of Oakland police officers assisted the deputies.

Despite the protest, county business was still conducted inside the building and civil courtrooms inside the building continued to operate.

The action is one of several May Day protests, rallies and marches taking place around the Bay Area today in support of immigrant and worker rights.

KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty and Bay City News contributed to this report.
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