The two most militant movements currently powering struggles for progressive change in the United States provided leadership and activists to commemorations of May Day — the internationally recognized workers’ holiday — and turned out marchers by the thousands, coast to coast.

The right of immigrants to live and work in this country without harassment and threats of deportation has been a major theme of May Day events since 2006, when millions walked off their jobs on May 1 in a stunning display of courage and militancy. This year, wherever there were large concentrations of immigrants, they again played leading roles in May Day demonstrations.

It was primarily Black unionists and community activists who in 2005 revived May Day in the U.S. with a demonstration in Washington, D.C. This year the Black Lives Matter movement and other forces struggling against state repression, police violence and low wages were in the forefront of many marches and rallies.

Family members of youth killed by police spoke at many events. Unions whose members are predominantly people of color turned out with their shirts and banners to underscore the struggle for higher wages and the need to organize the unorganized.

Overall, May Day events were as diverse and multinational as is the working class itself in this country. All the cutting-edge issues were addressed, from the rights of women and LGBTQ people to solidarity with Palestine and demands of “U.S out of the Middle East.”

The following reports, moving from West to East, help give the flavor and spirit of May Day 2016.

Bay Area: Union solidarity with oppressed

Two militant, multinational May Day demonstrations were held in the Bay Area, one in Oakland led by Sin Fronteras and the other in San Francisco led by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10.

Some 1,000 people gathered at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in Oakland, where police killed Oscar Grant in 2009. They then marched for “Legalization, housing, education, and a living wage. No more raids or deportations! No gentrification! No more police violence — Black Lives Matter!”

Cat Brooks, a leader of the Anti Police- Terror Project, recalled the murders of Grant and other Black youth: “There will be no more business as usual in the United States as long as this country is in the business of killing Black bodies.”

Luis Angel, of the East Bay Immigrant Youth Coalition, spoke about the historic role of the immigrant community in reviving May Day. He noted that the government is responsible for more than “3 million deportations” and called for “unconditional legalization for everyone — no one will be left out in our community.”

Pierre ­Labossiere, of the Haiti Action Committee, linked the struggle of the people of Haiti against police terror and gentrification with struggles in the Bay Area, identifying with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fast food workers from the Fight for $15 struggle and OUR Walmart filled the streets with chants and banners. Black, Latino/a and Asian families came out to watch and support.

In San Francisco, ILWU Local 10 leader Clarence Thomas and Teamster leader Chris Silvera from New York recalled the long history of the labor movement in fighting police brutality. Silvera said that to end police brutality and murders, “the unions need to be in the forefront.”

More than 400 people then marched from the union hall to Harry Bridges Plaza for a closing rally emceed by Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant. Johnson called to the stage many people whose children had been murdered by police. Dionne Smith, mother of James Rivera, and her spouse recalled the extreme brutality of Stockton, Calif., police, who shot their son 48 times.

Johnson noted that the turning point in the Oscar Grant case came when the Longshore union joined the fight and shut down Bay Area ports.

Los Angeles: No to ICE and police terror!

Thousands marched from East Los Angeles to downtown led by unions, Black Lives Matter-LA and nonprofits working on immigration issues. Participants stopped at both the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Field Office to hit police and ICE terror. These protests were combined with calls for international solidarity.

Many left forces marched with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front contingent, including participants in the Workers World Party Senate and presidential campaigns. They joined in singing the International, which was played over loudspeakers by FMLN organizers, along with speeches from Fidel Castro and songs of liberation from El Salvador. The FMLN in Los Angeles has endorsed John Parker, Workers World’s candidate for U.S. Senate.

San Diego: ‘Stop poverty wages and Migra violence!’

“Workers’ Rights Have No Borders” was the theme as hundreds gathered at San Diego City College for an opening rally and then marched several miles through the Barrio Logan neighborhood to historic Chicano Park for a closing rally. Signs and banners in English and Spanish voiced the concerns of the city’s working-class and poor communities, including the fight for $15 minimum wage and a union, justice for the missing students of Ayotzinapa, condemnation of Trump’s reactionary politics and the need to fight for socialism.

The May Day Coordinating Committee’s points of unity included “Stop poverty wages and worker abuse,” “Stop police and Migra violence” and “Stop deportations and welcome refugees!” The program highlighted the history of May Day and its connection to struggles today. Cultural performers included the youthful Junkyard Dance Crew and Aztec Dancers.

Speakers included representatives of the Service Employees Union, UNITE HERE Local 30, the California Faculty Association and Unión Del Barrio, as well as San Diego professor Dennis Childs, author of “Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration from the Chain Gang to the Penitentiary,” and María Puga, widow of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, who was kicked to death by several Border Patrol agents on May 28, 2010. While his death was caught on video and ruled a homicide, no criminal charges have been filed against the agents involved.

Childs spoke about the huge immigrant detention center located nearby and ended with a call to “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners!” Gloria Verdieu, of Workers World Party, and Kiki Ochoa, of Unión Del Barrio, co-chaired both the City College and Chicano Park rallies.

Wisconsin: Youth of color in lead

Thousands marched in Milwaukee on May Day for immigrant and workers’ rights. Latino/a and other youth of color played a central role in the organizing and sent a clear message that resistance is building to the anti-immigrant and anti-worker Wall Street forces.

The sponsors of May Day Milwaukee — Voces de la Frontera and Youth Empowered in the Struggle — mobilized members from multiple cities, K-12 schools and colleges in the state. They were joined by dozens of other labor, community and student organizations taking a stand against racist politicians like Scott Walker and Donald Trump, who push anti-immigrant, union-busting legislation on behalf of Wall Street. After a rally at the Voces office, the loud and militant protesters marched through the streets of Milwaukee to another rally at the County Courthouse.

Chicago: Solidarity Day and ‘Dump Trump’

Thousands marched through Chicago led by drummers and dancers in brightly colored dress. The lead banner read “Human Rights for Immigrant Families.” At the monument commemorating the Haymarket Massacre, where May Day began, hundreds of union activists joined the march. A rally called by the Chicago Teachers Union and other progressive unions included speakers from the National Women in the Trades Conference. A woman plumber said, ”We women in the trades know what it is like to be oppressed and isolated. We must stand in solidarity with immigrant workers, the Fight for 15 and all workers fighting for a decent wage and a union.”

At the Federal Building downtown, hundreds of Syrian activists and their supporters gathered to demand the U.S. get out of the Middle East. They joined the march to Trump Tower where there was a huge police presence. “Whose streets? Our streets” chanted the crowd, in a clear expression of the mass movement being built to fight the racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant warmongering represented by the Trump campaign.

Detroit: Many issues, one message

A diverse crowd celebrated May Day in downtown Detroit. A contingent of youth fighting for a $15 minimum wage and a union joined city of Detroit retirees demanding the courts overturn the theft of their pensions by recent bankruptcy proceedings. Flint activists brought a first-hand report on the continuing struggle against lead-poisoned water. A May Day message from Michigan political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney got a warm response from the crowd. Other speakers addressed the continuing destruction of Detroit from mass water shutoffs and tax foreclosures. Attacks on public education and teachers’ unions were protested.

Speakers from the Hispanic Workers Center spoke in Spanish about the many challenges faced by immigrant workers. A handful of anti-immigrant bigots showed up but were quickly confronted by a defense line, including youth from the Flint area. The bigots soon left. The rally ended with a march to Whole Foods, where the store was surrounded by activists demanding a boycott of Driscoll berries in solidarity with berry workers in Washington state.

New York: No ICE, no racist police

Some 600 people braved the rain to celebrate May Day in Union Square. The day before, hundreds attended a May Day event in the South Bronx.

Black Lives Matter signs filled Union Square, along with Palestinian, Ecuadorian and Brazilian flags. A long banner demanded human rights in the Philippines and signs demanded freedom for political prisoners Oscar López Rivera, Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Peoples Power Assembly signs declared, “No Workers’ Liberation without Black Liberation.” Many others denounced wage theft and demanded a $15 minimum wage. Signs and banners linked the struggle for LGBTQ rights with workers’ rights. Workers World ­Party presidential candidate Monica ­Moorehead reminded the crowd that May Day began in Chicago where workers fought for the eight-hour day in 1886.

ICE-FREE NYC played a big role in building this year’s May Day, as did several Filipino organizations. A speaker from BAYAN denounced the April 1 massacre of peasants in Kidapawan, Philippines. A Brazilian speaker condemned the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff as an attempted coup. People then marched to Washington Square to join the Immigrant Worker Justice Tour of places where workers face special injustice.

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