Thousands took part in peaceful yet passionate May Day marches and rallies across the Bay Area on Monday, joining demonstrations around the nation fighting for immigrants' and workers' rights.
In San Jose, a march included children who skipped school and business owners who closed up shop to show their solidarity. It began at Mexican Heritage Plaza about 3 p.m. and followed Santa Clara Street through downtown and finishing at SAP Center. Along the way, the marchers made four stops, each time knocking down a symbolic wall in the middle of the street.
Thousands March in May Day Rallies Across the Bay Area
Parents with schoolchildren were hoping the demonstration would be a teachable moment for their kids.
"I'm trying to bring her out here so she can learn a little bit, social stuff here that you don’t see too much in schools," parent Jamie Torres said.
The marchers walked by several businesses, many closed for the day. The owner of Mexico Bakery said he’ll lose thousands of dollars but added it’s a price he’s willing to pay to support the march. His 50 workers participated in the march.
Meanwhile, San Jose police kept a close eye on the marchers, getting an early head count so they were able to see how many officers they would need.
"Our officers have met with the organizers, and we have an operational plan in place," Sgt. Enrique Garcia said. "Our goal is to keep it a safe environment for all the participants as well as the community."
In San Francisco, the May Day march drew a bigger crowd than it has in previous years, and while it was peaceful, there was no lack of passion among the marchers, and the recurring message of resisting hate, racism and discrimination had a bit more punch.
"The people in this country support immigrants, we don’t hate," demonstrator Richard Goldstein, of San Francisco, said. "Immigrants made this country."
Fellow marcher Lisa Cassidy, of Dublin, agreed.
"We all come from immigrants," she said. "I mean all our families. And there shouldn’t be this huge ban on selective groups of people."
Among the marchers Sergio Rosales and his 14-year-old daughter Karina. He said he wanted his daughter to understand what is happening.
"I really want her to see and experience what other people are having," he said.
Twenty-seven years ago, Rosales ran across the border from Mexico. He has since become a U.S. citizen and started his own janitorial business, now with 11 employees.
"I’m not a criminal," he said. "I'm a father of two kids, you know, working hard. That’s the story of many people in here."
Karina said she got the message. It brought her to tears.
"I think that everyone should just take advantage of what they have right now because some people take that for granted," she said. "And people in a lot of countries really want what they have here."
Earlier in the day in San Francisco, roughly 20 protesters linked arms and formed a human wall in front of the entrance and exit point for deportation buses at the ICE building.
[NATL] International May Day Protesters March for Workers Rights
In Oakland, the latest in a series of May Day marches ended at San Antonio Park in the afternoon. At least 500 people marched down International Boulevard, some saying this year's demonstration felt a bit different because of the current political climate.
"It definitely feels different than last year," marcher Gloria Ramirez said. "I think last year was to promote workers' rights, but right now, it's to promote everybody's rights."
At an earlier rally at the Alameda County government building, four people were arrested after chaining themselves to the front doors, demanding changes in how the county deals with federal immigration officials.
"To break away from their reliance on militarized policing, break away from their ties with ICE and stop the explosion of cages," said Woods Ervin of Continual Resistance.
The Oakland rally was expected to last well into the evening.
No arrests were reported in San Jose or San Francisco.