Chicago’s workers have always been central to May Day. This year, an estimated 20,000 marchers turned out onto Chicago’s streets not only in solidarity with workers, but with their immigrant neighbors. The march began at Union Park, the site of Chicago’s Haymarket monument, which memorializes the Haymarket Affair of 1886, and ended in Daley Plaza downtown, just outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.
In addition to the afternoon march, coalition members also led demonstrations at four schools around the city to demand funding for Chicago’s starved public schools, as well as the creation of an elected, representative school board and civilian police oversight committee. Chicago has not had an elected school board since 1995, when a policy of mayoral control turned over all board appointment power to the mayor.
The May Day coalition also sponsored rallies at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and a rally for immigration justice in Union Park prior to the march. Despite ongoing rain showers, the march culminated in a rally at Daley Plaza and featured labor leaders and elected officials, as well as a huge puppet of a multi-headed snake emblazoned with “Capitalism” and “Colonialismo” and whose heads depicted, among others, Donald Trump, Rahm Emanuel, Steve Bannon, and Hillary Clinton.
Over 100 local organizations endorsed the day’s actions, including labor unions, neighborhood organizers, health care providers, and student groups. As the Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis, told marchers at the rally, “We’re all in this hot mess together."