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CHS Pics | Seattle May Day 2019 marches for immigrants and workers — with stops at The Chateau, new youth jail… and the Broadway Whole Foods

With reporting and pictures by Alex Garland

With a third straight year of a mostly calm and peaceful day of awareness and protest, May Day in Seattle has evolved into an annual march for immigrants and workers mixed with a tour of the latest progressive hotspots around the Central District, Capitol Hill, and downtown like the The Chateau apartments, the county’s youth jail, and, yes, the new Amazon Whole Foods at Broadway and Madison.

2019’s May Day March for the Rights of Immigrants and Workers again crossed Capitol Hill and again brought out a massive and heavily equipped police presence, boarded up windows at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, and a small, mostly insignificant party of trolling “counter protesters to the neighborhood’s streets. But the years of clashes between protesters beyond the march and police that frequently ended up pushed back up Capitol Hill appear to be — for now — a thing of the past.

In 2018, CHS reported “just another calm, quiet May Day on Capitol Hill” as “Police interventions were few, blast bombs went undeployed, and even the Amazon Spheres came through May Day 2018 unscathed.” 2017 was also a welcome snooze for TV news crews and their helicopters who had turned the annual clashes into a strange sort of live sports coverage.

This year, the march included some 600 people by the time it left Capitol Hill as it grew with groups joining in along the way through the Central District and along 12th Ave from its start on Dearborn. “We are here refusing to be victims of the few who benefit from this system and the impoverishment, displacement and death that they wreak upon on our peoples,” organizers from El Comite wrote about 2019’s 20th annual march.

Along the way, the march paused at points to rally for causes and give people a chance to speak about immigrant and labor struggles in the area.

On 19th Ave in the Central District, marchers rallied and listened to tenants of The Chateau apartments where District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has led a political effort to bring attention to plans to demolish and redevelop the property from the Section 8 housing it has provided. On 12th Ave, the marchers also stopped at the construction site where activists continue to fight against the nearly completed new King County Youth and Family Justice Center. And at Broadway and Madison, the crowd chanted “It’s not about quinoa, it’s not about rice, it’s about workers and their rights” outside the Amazon operated Whole Foods that opened at the corner last October.

Seattle Police, meanwhile, escorted the march with an outsized contingent and made a significant show of their presence at key intersections.

Tough the majority of past May Day damage and vandalism on the Hill came hours after the march, buildings like the Ferrari dealership that have been damaged by street chaos in the past, also were surrounded by officers as the marchers passed. Police also stepped up their activities when a small group of so-called “counter protestors” occasionally attempted to stir things up with the marchers and media. There were no reported arrests.

With a turn on Pine past Seattle Central to head off the Hill, the crowds marched, as they do every year, to the federal courthouse where they rallied for immigrant rights. Union and construction workers also gathered near the site of Saturday’s deadly crane accident to honor the victims. The most incendiary element the Seattle Times could find was the sun. “March for immigrants’ rights highlights sunny May Day,” their headline for the day read.

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