FIRST PERSON | LOS ANGELES -- May Day traditionally brings rallies and protests in support of workers' rights. On Tuesday in Los Angeles, there was a large rally that marched down Broadway, through downtown L.A., ending in a protest in front of Los Angeles City Hall.
I took a walk to the area of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway around 2 p.m. and the crowd was organized and just about ready to begin their march. The presence from the Los Angeles Police Department was overwhelming in terms of numbers, but the police looked relaxed and all were in regular uniforms, no riot gear or other heavy weapons.
The city seemed ready for the event, as all the streets in the area were closed, with each intersection manned by a traffic control officer. The traffic was heavy but still flowing. There were street closures in the area, and I did see signs posted over the past few days before the event, advising of the upcoming closures.
The crowd was orderly and was lining up in a parade form to prepare for the march. The parade was led (and controlled) by union laborers, each wearing orange vests and orange construction hardhats. There was a flatbed truck leading the march, with a band and people speaking over the public address system. The leaders were taking turns leading the crowd in chants, in Spanish, about immigration issues. There was a positive energy in the crowd and I never felt threatened or unsafe.
There was a wide mix of people at the Los Angeles May Day rally, both organized groups and individuals. I saw many older people, along with families and children. There was also a large contingent from the gay and transgender community and they were very visible with their large rainbow flags. Many held up signs, both printed and hand-made, and they mainly spoke to immigration issues as well.
The signs talked about rights and legal status for undocumented workers. I saw signs reading things like: "Power to the people," "Obama, where is the reform?" and "Full rights for all immigrants."
In addition to the organized protesters, there were also many punkers and anarchists, many with their faces obscured by masks and bandanas.
I spoke with one of them, who called himself "Human," and asked what he hoped to accomplish: "The government does everything it can to keep us down, to take from us. The more people who realize that, the more people you're gonna see on the streets, fighting to take back what's ours."