CHICAGO (CBS) — A number of demonstrations have been planned for May Day in Chicago, to celebrate worker and immigrant rights.
Early Monday, teachers and immigrants held a small demonstration outside Mather High School in Rogers Park to mark May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day.
“We know how much that Chicago public teachers and students have been suffering this year, and we’re here to show our support,” said Mather social studies teacher and teachers’ union representative Tom Mead.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey pointed out International Workers’ Day was first celebrated on May Day to honor union laborers who marched for an eight-hour workday.
“It’s funny to think the fight for an eight-hour day – we were fighting it more than 100 years ago – because no one here is working eight hours anymore. We’d love to; unfortunately our days are more like 12 or 14 hours,” he said.
The worldwide May 1st commemoration has a long history, which originates in Chicago and grew out of the 1886 Haymarket riots.
Maleeha Chugtai graduated from Mather last year, and said immigrant students like herself live in fear of being deported, and need to feel safe in school.
“That is why I’m out here today on May Day; to stand in solidarity with all the working immigrant families,” she said.
Chugtai said city and school officials might not realize what immigrants experience behind closed doors.
“We need them to understand how it feels to walk through the hallways in constant fear of being deported; to know how scared we are of getting targeted for practicing our faith,” she said.
Sharkey said May Day started as a celebration of the arrival of spring and coming out of the dark, dreary winter. He said that still holds true today.
“Not just a winter of cold and dark, but a winter in which we’ve seen the schools cut. We’ve seen critical programs for students under threat. We’ve seen a dark shadow come over the politics in our country,” he said.
Monday’s May Day rallies culminated with an event at Daley Plaza at 4 p.m, where as many as a thousand Chicagoans filled the courtyard. Furthermore, this year’s demonstrations took on a strong, partisan political tone: opposition to President Trump.