Fewer March, But Pride Is Evident On May Day
The \<a href=\"http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-immigration-march02may02,0,1120170.story\"\>Tribune\<\/a\> estimates about 2,000 people marched and protested in the May Day event on Friday, significantly fewer than in previous years when Chicago crowds totaled up to 300,000. Some chalked up the lower turn out to inclement weather, health concerns about the swine flu pandemic, and reports that a Spanish radio station announced the march had been canceled.
Before stepping off to march, May Day participants from the estimated 70 organizations involved mingled and took photographs in Union Park, just west of the Loop.
Chihuahuas decked in America-themed paraphernalia roamed Union Park before the march began.
Signs such as \"No human is illegal,\" were prominently displayed at the pre-march rally.
A large replica of the Statue of Liberty\'s head with a dove flying out of her mouth stands at the back of the sound truck that was used during the march.
Some demonstrators, such as this woman with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, wore face masks to protect themselves from threats of swine flu. City officials called march organizers just two days before May Day and asked them to consider canceling the event because of health concerns.
GLBTQ groups came out to the march to show their support for immigrant and workers rights.
At about 11:30 a.m. demonstrators lined up on W. Washington Blvd. to begin their two-mile march toward the Loop.
A giant sheet with the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and hundreds of signatures supporting immigrant and workers rights was carried during the march.
Two puppets, one of a farmer and another of a Mexican campesino, walk down Washington during the march.
Organizers say they made about 1,500 of these blue and white placards to hand out during the march bearing the slogan \"Without legalization there can be no equal labor rights.\"
A giant blow-up Statue of Liberty was pulled by marchers along the route to the Loop.
Some protesters demanded an end to raids and deportations, although some already credit President Obama with decreasing the amount of workplace raids and pledging to work toward immigration reform.
Chicago police officers watched from behind barricades along Washington.
Members from Workers United of Chicago yelled through megaphones asking for an end to raids on immigrant workers.
Many children accompanied parents during the march.
Monarch butterflies, a common representation for migrant workers and immigrants, were held by several of the demonstrators.
The main banner, held by a handful of members from the church Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Mission, headed up the demonstration.
The sound truck, which was donated for use by the organizers by a May Day participant, drove in front of the demonstrators.
Chicago police officers and Illinois State troopers lined Jackson and Dearborn in the Loop as protesters marched toward Federal Plaza.
Dozens of Chicago police officers rode on bicycles, Segways and horses to help control the crowd of about 2,000.
Demonstrators arrived at Federal Plaza at about 1:30 p.m. after their two-hour walk from Union Park.
Vendors selling churros, ice cream and tamales cycled and walked among the crowd.
Even as rain began to fall on the demonstrators in Federal Plaza, May Day participants stayed committed to their cause.
Since the Chicago Haymarket riot of 1886, May 1 has long been an internationally recognized day to celebrate and demand workers rights, with May Day demonstrators marching from Paris to Iraq to the U.S.
In 2006, the first year organizers wove immigration reform into their demands for workers rights, the Chicago crowd of demonstrators reached an estimated 300,000 on March 10 and into the hundreds of thousands again on May 1. But at the last two Chicago marches, crowds have dwindled to about 2,000. Cities across the U.S. have experienced similar drops in attendance, with Los Angeles, New York and Miami also reporting far fewer attendees than expected.
Some have speculated that this year's turn out suffered from the bad weather in Chicago, mounting concerns about the spread of the H1N1 Influenza A virus (aka swine flu) and a decreased concern about immigration reform as President Obama has pledged to work toward developing a legalization path for undocumented immigrants before the end of the year. A tough economy made it difficult for some to take off work for the event and marchers also reported that a Chicago Spanish-language radio station had wrongly announced the march was canceled the morning of May 1.
Demonstrators met in Union Park, just west of the Loop at 10 a.m. and stepped off to march down Washington Blvd. toward Des Plaines about an hour and a half later. Protesters banged drums, called out into microphones and chanted "Obama, escucha, estamos en la lucha" (Listen Obama, we're in the fight) as helicopters circled overhead. Marchers reached their final destination -- Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Adams in the Loop -- at about 1:30 p.m. after a two-hour, two-mile walk. Organizers estimate about 70 different groups and organizations -- ranging from student-led clubs to churches to activist groups -- attended the event.