May Day 2023: Rallies, marches held across Southern California

Rallies and marches were held Monday in downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo and Boyle Heights to mark International Workers Day, also known as May Day, continuing a tradition dating back to the 19th century.

One rally, which kicked off at 5 a.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, was organized by the Los Angeles May Day Coalition. The organization's members showed some second wind by putting together a 5 p.m. march, also starting at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway.

The marches then extended to Pershing Square before continuing to Grand Park in front of City Hall in the evening.

Demonstrators took to the streets Monday to call for improved worker's rights.

"It is getting more desperate because things are just as expensive. And, you know, wages are still low. So that's what they're fighting for," said Letty Rodriguez, a marcher.

The theme of the march was "Solidarity is Power: Right to Citizenship, Right to Unionize, Right to Strike, & Right to Housing."

The coalition included the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, United Teachers Los Angeles, the Service Employees International Union, IATSE Local 839, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Communist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America - Los Angeles.

Revolution Club LA had a 3 p.m. demonstration at First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo, calling for "No U.S. NATO war with Russia, stop U.S. threats against China and no World War 3," organizers say.

The eighth annual May Day Boyle Heights started in the evening with a rally at the intersection of Mathews Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights. Followin a rally, a march was held west on Cesar Chavez Avenue, then south on Chicago Street, stopping at the Hollenbeck Community Police Station, where a protest took place. Speakers at the event included Josefina Rizo, whose 16-year-old son Jose Mendez was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Department officers in 2016.

Police said Mendez was driving a stolen vehicle and pointed a shotgun at them. In 2017, the Police Commission ruled in the shooting was justified and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office review of the shooting found that Officers Josue Merida and Jeremy Wagner used reasonable force in self-defense and the defense of others.

A different program held a march to Mariachi Plaza Monday night.

May Day Boyle Heights is organized by Centro CSO, whose May Day demands include legalization for everyone who has entered the United States without authorization, protecting public education and community control over the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Labor groups have conducted rallies and protests on May 1 since 1890, originally commemorating the anniversary of the Haymarket affair on May 4, 1886, when what began as a peaceful rally in Chicago's Haymarket Square in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day ended with an unknown person throwing a dynamite bomb at police as they acted to disperse the meeting, with the bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulting in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians.

Eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy in a trial their supporters called unfair and a serious miscarriage of justice. Seven were sentenced to death and one to a term of 15 years in prison. Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby commuted two of the sentences to terms of life in prison while another committed suicide in jail before his scheduled execution. The other four were hanged on Nov. 11, 1887.

Illinois Gov. John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining defendants in 1893 and criticized the trial.