A Global Roundup of May Day Marches and Protests

Hundreds of thousands of workers and labor activists marched in cities across the globe on May 1st, for International WorkersÂ’ Day, which coincides with May Day celebrations. The holiday commemorates the Haymarket affair of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois, where laborers demanding an eight-hour work day clashed with police in the streets. On International WorkerÂ’s Day, labor rights movements both celebrate that history and address todayÂ’s issues like a living wage, protection of benefits and an end to austerity programs. HereÂ’s a global roundup of some of the marches from May Day, 2016.


In Russia, about 100,000 people attended a peaceful parade in Moscow’s Red Square amidst an ongoing economic crisis in the country. In São Paulo, Brazil, thousands gathered in support of President Dilma Rousseff as she faces impeachment proceedings from her opposition, actions Rousseff says are politically motivated and illegal. She announced the expansion of a number of government social programs for the country. Not all May Day marches were peaceful. In many cities, protesters were met with tear gas, water canons and fatal crackdowns.

In Istanbul, Turkey a protester was run over by an armored vehicle near Taksim Square, where thousands of people had gathered not only to celebrate the holiday but challenge Turkish security forces and the nationÂ’s police state that President Erdogan has constructed over the past few months as terrorist attacks have spilled over from Syria and Iraq.

At the end of the day, over 200 protesters ended up in police custody. In France, students and laborers protested the countryÂ’s new labor law, which would give employers more flexibility in the hiring and firing workers. Between 20 and 70 thousand people clashed with police in the streets of Paris. In the United States and Canada, thousands of protesters in Seattle and Montreal were met with pepper spray, tear gas and flash bang grenades in anti-capitalist demonstrations.

On Facebook, Seattle organizers explained that May Day protests are “an annual event where we march in rage against capitalism and the oppressive forces that seek to gentrify our communities and force the poor into everlasting homelessness, or death.”

In Montreal, dozens of protesters were arrested. In places like Oakland and Los Angeles, people marched for immigrant rights, denouncing deportations as well as the rise of Donald Trump. Tens of thousands more marched in places like Argentina, Cuba and China and the UK.

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