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Hundreds Participate In Seattle May Day Demonstrations

Hundreds of people participated in various May Day demonstrations Tuesday around Seattle.

The main attraction in Seattle was the 19th Annual March For Workers and Immigrant Rights. The march began with a rally at Judkins Park. Aztec dancers led the way as the crowd headed downtown.

While immigration issues are usually highlighted during May Day in Seattle, they played a particularly central role in this year’s march.

Many demonstrators carried signs that said “Stop Deportations,” “Reunite Families,” or “No Wall,” referring to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The march was smaller than in past years. Organizers say fear of being arrested could have played a part, particularly for people who are undocumented.

The crowd marched to the Immigration Court on Second Avenue and Spring Street where they held up "eviction notices" calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to move out. 

"I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but it shows at least some people that there's still people willing to fight. They're still out here in the streets doing something," said Irvin Enriquez, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

While that demonstration made its way downtown, far-right groups began to gather in Westlake Park.

There were two main groups. The Proud Boys espouse a philosophy called "Western chauvinism," or the idea that Western culture is supreme to others. Patriot Prayer is generally united in its support for President Trump. They said they were there to counter-protest anti-capitalists.

Some heated debates broke out when a handful of self-identified antifa, or anti-fascist, demonstrators arrived. One carrying a Communist flag was shouted down by a Proud Boy.

A few dozen of the right-wing protesters marched in a loop through downtown blaring music through a loudspeaker. Some of the music was well-known, including the Star-Spangled Banner and songs by country singer Toby Keith. The group also played rap music that was supportive of Trump and included anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The group began to disperse shortly after.

As the afternoon went on, a small group of black-clad demonstrators bearing anti-fascist symbols broke off from the larger labor and immigration march. 

They marched through downtown into Capitol Hill, chanting "Seattle, make it clear: Nazis are not welcome here." They too dispersed before dark.

Overall, May Day demonstrations were relatively peaceful this year.

Seattle Police say one person was arrested before marches began. The Police Department said on Twitter that a masked man was arrested Tuesday afternoon for throwing a rock at Amazon's newest headquarters building known as The Spheres.

The Seattle Times reports Amazon had locked doors throughout their campus earlier in preparation for rallies including the March for Immigrant and Workers Rights, as well as a group protesting the construction of a new youth jail.

Thousands across the country last year peacefully chanted, picketed and protested against President Donald Trump's immigration and labor policies on May Day, despite a small pocket of violent unrest in the Pacific Northwest where police made arrests and shut down protests.

One of those pockets was Olympia. Officials had deemed May Day 2017 demonstrations a "riot" after people began throwing rocks and breaking windows.

This year, police and businesses in Olympia were well-prepared. Many businesses closed early, and police with bicycles showed out in force.

But Olympia's May Day was quiet. There was a rally in Sylvester Park to celebrate workers held by the Industrial Workers of the World and the Democratic Socialists of America.