The death of Freddie Gray in police custody has already caused a massive ripple effect felt across the country. After protests erupted in Baltimore over the weekend, they spread to major cities across the US over the past week. Aside from Monday night’s riots and a few other isolated incidents, the protests have been largely peaceful.
— deray mckesson (@deray) May 1, 2015
Now many organizers who have long-planned the traditional May Day marches are also incorporating the Black Lives Matter movement, which first came to prominence after the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown last August.
"It is important to support movements and struggles that stand up for people being singled out by the system," Miguel Paredes, coordinator for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the Associated Press. "Right now, immigrants share that distinction with African-American youth, that we are being targeted by the system."
— Jessica Christian (@jachristian) May 1, 2015
In many ways, including police brutality protests into May Day demonstrations seems like a logical decision. International Worker’s Day has been celebrated since 1886, when a bomb blast in the middle of a Chicago labor demonstration caused a large riot. That event has been cited as a major factor in establishing the 8-hour workday, and Black Lives Matter protesters certainly hope that the protests of the past week could cause similarly monumental changes.
Many May Day organizers recognize that the struggles faced by black minorities in inner cities are the same faced by many immigrant groups. Distrust of police and the US judicial system is a common thread.
"This is one of these times where the savvy political move is also coherent political ideology," professor of sociology and political science at University of California, Irvine, told the AP.
Los Angeles isn’t the only city hosting the expanded marches. Many activists in New York will carry a banner reading "No police from Baltimore to Ayotzinapa," taking the police brutality message even further, referencing the 43 students who went missing in Mexico last year.
And protests continue in Baltimore. The announcement made Friday by Baltimore City’s State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, stating that criminal charges have been brought against all six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, have filled many protesters with a sense of accomplishment.
The indictments mean that Gray’s death has already achieved a level of hope that several other recent instances of police brutality have not.
Photos of the officers charged have now been released. All six have posted bail and have been released.
— deray mckesson (@deray) May 2, 2015
Speaking on Mosby’s decision, Baltimore’s police union attorney Michael Davey said that the officers did nothing wrong, and that he had "never seen such a rush" to judgement.
Still, many others support Mosby’s decision.
— Paulina Leonovich (@Polly_evro) May 1, 2015
"This is a great day, and I think we need to realize that," Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings said, according to the New York Times. "I think a message has been sent by our state’s attorney that she treasures every life, that she values every person."
Representative Cummings led peaceful protests through Baltimore throughout the week, and helped police to calmly enforce the nightly 10:00 PM curfew. On Friday, for the time being, those protesters have cause to celebrate.