Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant says she will march with El Comite on Thursday for May Day demonstrations.
In a statement released Tuesday, Sawant says she opposes violence and destruction. She also says she’s opposed to “the provocative statements and actions of the Seattle Police Department in relation to May 1st.”
She says she’s appealing to “young people and activists who are protesting the Youth Detention center to not fall into the trap of the police and instead act in a peaceful manner and join the mass, non-violent demonstration for immigrant and workers’ rights.”
A planned, permitted march for immigrant and workers rights begins at 3 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Church. It will go down Capitol Hill through downtown and end with a rally at Westlake Park.
There are two non-permitted anti-capitalist marches planned. One group will meet at 6 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College; another group meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Youth Detention Center at 12th and Spruce.
MAP: Tentative demonstration route as of 4/29
Meanwhile, Seattle police and downtown businesses are planning ahead for May Day. Many businesses and Seattle Central Community College plan to close early to avoid getting targeted by protesters. You’ll also likely see a bigger police presence.
“We are proud of our city. Every officer is proud of this city, so when we see things where people are doing property damage or even worse assaulting individuals, that hurts. So our officers do take pride it trying to make sure this city is a safe place,” said Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh.
Last year officers arrested 17 people when May Day protests turned violent. They also used blast balls and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
The following is the full statement by Councilmember Kshama Sawant:
This May Day I will march shoulder to shoulder with my sisters and brothers fighting for immigrant rights and for a $15/hour minimum wage. The fight for immigrants’ rights is inextricably linked to the struggle of all workers for a dignified life.
We have seen a sharp increase in anti-immigration legislation in recent years – 164 bills have passed across the country since 2010. Many are confronted with the ever present threat of arrest and deportation and also the brutal realities of low wages, poverty, grinding unemployment, and even of hunger and homelessness.
At the same time, all working people are under attack. The corporations and the super-wealthy are celebrating billions in profits while the rest of us face skyrocketing poverty and inequality.
I stand in solidarity with El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, which brings together all workers regardless of race, class, gender, religious affiliation, sexual identity, ability, and documented status to fight against racism and inequality.
And we are fighting back. We’ve seen courageous hunger strikes in Tacoma spread to other immigration detention centers. We’ve seen the Occupy movement thrust wealth inequality into the national dialogue and embolden a new layer of young activists. And we are seeing strikes and a growing nationwide movement for a $15/hour minimum wage.
It’s clear that we cannot rely on establishment politicians. We must rely on our own strength. And we must organize that strength into a mass movement. It was the Latino and immigrant community which organized into the historic movement that defeated the draconian anti-immigrant bill HR4437 in 2006.
This May Day will be a truly historic opportunity for Seattle’s working people to join together the demands for full immigrant rights and a living wage for all workers. The demand for fifteen is not only an economic demand. It is a matter of racial justice. It is also a matter of women’s rights.
I strongly oppose violence and property damage because this plays into the hands of the police and the political establishment who aim to discredit and undermine our struggles. Violence undermines the immediate needs of immigrants and working people, and especially puts our undocumented sisters and brothers at risk.
I also oppose the provocative statements and actions of the Seattle Police Department in relation to May 1st. The Seattle Police are acting in a repressive, anti-democratic manner along with the corporate owned mass media who are attempting to whip up a polarized state of fear. The Seattle Police have a unfortunate track record of violence and cracking down on activists and using pepper spray indiscriminately (including on journalists), which has been rampant during prior May Day events. I appeal to those young people and activists who are protesting the Youth Detention center to not fall into the trap of the police and instead act in a peaceful manner and join the mass, non-violent demonstration for immigrant and workers’ rights.
Let’s make May Day 2014 a day they will never forget – the day when immigrant and U.S.-born sisters and brothers stand together and shout from the rooftops against inequality and racism.