LOS ANGELES (FOX 11 / CNS) - Thousands of union members, immigrant-rights advocates and community activists descended on downtown Los Angeles Tuesday for the annual May Day march beginning at Pershing Square downtown.
According to organizers of the march, this year's gathering focuses on three themes -- defending workers' rights, halting deportations that break up families and urging residents to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Nearly three dozen unions and community organizations were involved in organizing the march, which began at midday at Pershing Square.
The crowd held a rally in front of the Immigration Court building adjacent to the park, then marched east on Sixth Street, north on Main Street and east on Temple Street, ending outside the Roybal Federal Building at 255 E. Temple St., where another rally was held.
Although the Pershing Square march is expected to be the primary event of the day, other marches are being planned in the area.
The Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition and the People's Congress of Resistance will sponsor a march beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, with participants scheduled to march north on Broadway, bound for a rally on Broadway between Temple and First streets.
Countering the views of the marchers, a group known as the United Patriot National Front plans to gather for a rally on Broadway and First Street at 4 p.m. "The opposition will be marching to keep criminals from being deported and we will show the nation that we will not stand by idle as these communists try to ruin our country,'' according to a posting on the group's Facebook page.
Yet another march is planned at 2:30 p.m. in Boyle Heights, beginning at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Mathews Street, ending at Mariachi Plaza, 730 Pleasant Ave. Along the way, the group will stop for a rally outside the LAPD's Hollenbeck Station to denounce police killings. Organizers said the march will include students from Roosevelt and Garfield high schools, along with immigrant families who will speak out against what they call a proliferation of private charter schools.
Union del Barrio Los Angeles is planning a separate march at 4 p.m. beginning at MacArthur Park and ending at Los Angeles City Hall, supporting workers' rights, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and legalization of street vending in the city.
Past marches have drawn tens of thousands of people, unleashing seas of humanity onto downtown streets. Motorists were being urged to plan ahead and avoid the downtown area if at all possible.