CHICAGO- In the city where it all started 130 years ago, workers still gather to celebrate what has since come to be known as International Workers Day. Dozens of unions, racial justice groups, and left-wing organizations turned out thousands of people to march for a more just society and to confront the face of bigotry and classism in 2016: the Republican front runner for president, Donald Trump.
Two separate marches became one on the corner of Desplaines and Washington in Chicago’s West Loop. One march, working its way north from Union Park, was lead by Mexican Chinelos dancers. The word “chinelos” comes from the Nahuatl word “zineloquie”, meaning “disguised” and the practice developed after the Spanish conquest. The dance developed as a mockery of the Europeans with their fine clothing, beards, fair skin and mannerisms. Marching behind them were contingents from SEIU Local 1, Justice for Janitors, and Chicago Jobs with Justice.
Pastor Ramiro Rodriguez of Amor de Dios United Methodist Church told People’s World “we support the march because we support workers and immigrants. We don’t want deportations; we want to be part of the community without discrimination. We don’t need a wall, we need to help poor communities.”
Not only Latin Americans were represented during the celebration of the international holiday. Groups made up of Iranian, Filipino, and Syrian workers also joined the march. The Syrians had a particularly large contingent, most of whom wore red and were calling for US intervention against Bashar Al Assad and ISIS.
The second march began after a program at the Haymarket monument on the site where the bomb was thrown and “where the labor movement was born,” according to Chicago Federation of Labor Treasurer Robert G. Reiter.
He went on to introduce the crowd to some of the big changes in the works at the Haymarket Monument. For one, the monument itself is being moved to Union Park for a year and a half so that renovations can be made.
The base of the monument is adorned with plaques representing solidarity from every corner of the globe and so it needs a new base with more room so that international labor organizations can continue to make the pilgrimage and leave their mark on history.
This year it was the Kilusang Mayo Uno, or May First Labour Movement, an independent labor union in the Philippines, who left a plaque in remembrance.
With the two marches combined, the echoes of their chants bounced off of the skyscrapers in downtown. Thanks to a heavy police presence, the way to Trump Tower was cleared.
Once the marchers got as close as they could get to Trump Tower, clergy at the head of the march began the program of exorcizing an effigy of Donald Trump.
“We ask you to bring out the demons and the demonic forces from our brother Donald Trump. We ask you to take out the racism and bigotry and replace it with a powerful tongue of love and care.”
Once the holy water doused the Trump puppet (complete with hair that would not stay still), the program came to an end without incident.
Oscar Sandoval of SEIU Local 1 who led the marchers with chants for over two miles was physically tired but spiritually and psychologically energized for the fight ahead.
“We have to confront deportations. We have Donald Trump running for president promising to be terrible for all people from Latin America. We are united now, we are looking for legalization, and we are looking to keep working families together.”
Photo: Scene of the “exorcism” of Trump. Patrick J. Foote | PW