May Day 2017: Black Lives Matter activists rally with immigrant, labor and LGBTQ groups
On Monday, activists in the Black Lives Matter movement emerged with their counterparts in other racial, social and economic justice movements for May Day mass actions across the United States.
In dozens of cities, activists launched marches and rallies — including a demonstration near the U.S. border with Mexico — for a Day Without Immigrants. The coalition, dubbed "The Majority," includes organizations from the Movement for Black Lives and other groups representing blacks, Latinos, indigenous people, the LGBTQ community, refugees, minimum-wage workers and the poor.
Activists organized two demonstrations in New York City alone, planning to gather in Foley Square on Monday evening to support immigrants and workers' rights and to oppose the immigration policies of President Donald Trump's administration. But first, a separate group of activists demonstrated under a #FreedomCities framework — a reimagining of the "sanctuary cities" Trump officials have maligned. Mic's Aaron Morrison is reporting live from there.
In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, the president signed an executive order to penalize sanctuary cities, or local governments that limit their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. On April 25, a federal judge blocked Trump's order to withhold federal funds from those cities, a ruling seen as a victory for activists who argue that such xenophobic policies have a much broader impact on communities of color.
"We know that NYC is no sanctuary when workers, immigrants, women, Muslims, black and brown, indigenous, queer and trans communities face exploitation, criminalization, incarceration, deportation, eviction, violence and harassment — so we STRIKE!" activists wrote on the #FreedomCities event page ahead of Monday's protests.
In the wake of Trump's inauguration, The Majority collectively agreed its resistance to police brutality, immigration raids and poverty-perpetuating policies should not be limited to the presidency. They created the #BeyondTheMoment campaign, which was first launched in Memphis and elsewhere on April 4, and urged individual movement groups to join forces and focus on the intersectionality of their fight for liberty and freedom.
"What we saw post-election is that those who are in opposition to creating a more free world for everybody have an amazing organizing structure," Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground, an LGBTQ rights group affiliated with the Movement for Black Lives, told Mic in a phone interview. "It is long overdue that we also be in formation."
SONG worked with Latino rights group Mijente and the Atlanta chapter of BLM to stage a demonstration at Atlanta's city hall.
Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which also worked with Hooks' group, said she hopes the cross-movement collaboration goes beyond May Day. "We shouldn't continue working in silos as an immigrant rights movement," Nicholls said in a phone interview. "If we want to make an impact, we will embrace other people's demands and be embraced by others."
Hooks pointed out that building a coalition across movements in Atlanta was easy — but keeping it up will be a challenge.
"We're willing to take that risk on each other, because we have a shared fate and shared destiny," Hooks said.