text and photography by Benjamin Camacho
With flags held high, the smell of sage burning through the wind and the voices of over 15,000 fellow marchers, the May Day General Strike closed down Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles on May 1. The march, in support of worker’s and immigrant rights, began at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Main Street. Representatives from several immigrant rights groups, including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, spoke against President Trump’s exclusionary immigration policies, as well as Los Angeles’ support for immigrants and undocumented students who have gone on to achieve higher education.
Flags of several Latin American countries flew in the air, with an even greater number of American flags brushing against them.
Marchers chanted the timeless “Si se puede” or, “Yes, we can,” a slogan that was coined by Dolores Huerta during the United Farm Workers strike in 1972.
Leading the march was a group of traditional Aztec dancers, complete with a drummer. They were the first to arrive at City Hall as the Los Angeles Police Department cleared the path for them to continue without any issues.
However, at City Hall awaited an obstacle unable to be silenced by police.
Barricaded by officers in riot masks was a counter-protest organized by Trump supporters. They were located on the same corner of the LAPD, adjacent to City Hall.
Signs read, “ICE, ICE, BABY,” “Build the wall,” “Trump is our savior,” and “Make America Safe Again.”
Some of the counter-protesters wore helmets and other kinds of protective gear, one wore a soldier’s camouflage.
A well-known Trump supporter, Kyle Chapman, also known as “Based Stickman,” was in the crowd. He became known during the March 4 Trump rally in Berkeley for hitting a National Anti-Fascist Organization, also known as Antifa, member over the head with a wooden pole after confrontations became violent.
Among the liberal crowd, one could spot certain people wearing only black clothes, bandanas, goggles or masks to hide their identity.
The group known as Antifa held its own black flags high. One Antifa member said the group was there to fight fascists if a fight broke out. He described themselves as anarchists and communists who are unafraid of conservative groups.
Members of a white supremacist group called Valhalla’s Glory clashed in a heated exchange of words with Antifa. Officers quickly escorted the white supremacist group members out of the main protest, into the Trump supporters’ counter-protest.
David Feiner, a Trump supporter and member of the San Fernando Valley 4 Trump group, said he was at the Berkeley March for Trump where things became violent due to marchers clashing with Antifa members.
“If this is ‘commie’ day, or Antifa day, anything they are here to celebrate, we are here to ruin that,” Feiner said. “Antifa is deadly. I was in all the fights, on the front-lines. Today has been scary, we have had water bottles thrown at us.”
LAPD Officers maintained the perimeters with vigilance and presence. Only a few outbursts or confrontations occurred. No injuries were reported.