New York – Labor unions and civil rights groups launched May Day rallies across the United States on Monday, with the largest protests expected late in the day aimed at challenging President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and vow to step up deportations.
Activists said they were seeking to amass the largest crowds that have turned out for U.S. immigrant-rights demonstrations since Trump took office on Jan. 20.
Early in the day, 500 protesters marched through midtown Manhattan and rallied in front of offices of Wells Fargo
The two banks were targeted because of their dealings with private companies that have built or manage some immigrant detention centers for the government, according to Jose Lopez, Make the Road New York’s co-director of organizing.
“The messaging for today was to stop to financing immigrant detention facilities,” said Lopez. “This is going to be the first of many attacks against these corporations who, until they stop working with this administration, will continue to be on our target list.”
May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, has typically been a quieter affair in the United States than in Europe, where it is a public holiday in many countries.
May Day unrest flared on Monday in France and Turkey, where demonstrators clashed with police.
At least three French officers were injured in Paris when protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at law enforcement. Meanwhile, police in Istanbul fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a rally there as authorities detained more than 150 people in protests around that city.
New York City’s biggest rally was planned for the early evening, when organizers expected thousands to gather in downtown Manhattan’s Foley Square for musical performances and speeches by union leaders and immigrants living in the country illegally.
In Los Angeles, organizers expected tens of thousands of people to converge on MacArthur Park during the morning before marching downtown to a rally in front of City Hall.
Precautions were in place in Seattle, where officials were on the lookout for incendiary devices and gun-carrying protesters after a January shooting outside a political event and an incident during May Day 2016 in which a protester tossed an unlit Molotov cocktail at police.
Some Trump supporters said they would also turn out on May Day. Activist Joey Gibson said he and other conservatives would travel to Seattle to defend against what he described as communist and anti-fascist groups who have in the past faced off with police in the evening, after the conclusion of the usually peaceful daytime marches.