Over 1,000 New Yorkers rally for May Day protest against police brutality

A protester holds signs during a demonstration calling for social, economic and racial justice in New York May 1, 2015. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
More than 1,000 people rallied in New York City’s Union Square for the May Day rally, bringing together American and immigrant workers to press for better pay and workers’ rights.

May Day traditionally is celebrated internationally as a day of solidarity for workers and laborers. Organizers with the May 1st Coalition in New York expanded the rally to embrace the groundswell of demonstrations against police killings of black people, thus creating the “March to Disarm the NYPD.”

This last fall, public outrage over the police killings of Mike Brown, Akai Gurley, Eric Garner and the almost countless other black people murdered by police erupted in massive demonstrations and riots across the country,” the group organizing the Union Square rally said on Facebook. “They demanded an end to assassinations by police.”

People gathered and held signs expressing solidarity with people all over the world, “From Baltimore to Ayotzinapa” in Mexico, where 43 students went missing after a confrontation with police.

At least 1,000 New Yorkers arrived, reported RT's Marina Portnaya.

The rally organizers embraced all oppressed peoples.

In the late afternoon, marchers left Union Square for Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, walking through 2nd Avenue in the East Village where a gas fire recently destroyed three buildings, made residents homeless and put businesses out of work.

The march caused downtown gridlock temporarily.

Marchers chanted phrases such as, “all night all day, we’re doing this for Freddie Gray.” Their route was marked by barricades, with police officers traveling alongside protesters.

The NYPD has been criticized for the aggressive arrests of more than 140 protesters who rallied at Union Square on Wednesday in solidarity with Baltimore protesters over the death of Freddie Gray, 25. The Maryland State’s attorney announced indictments against six Baltimore police officers on Friday, including a charge of second-degree of murder.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Friday that demonstrators should work with, not against, officers.

Elsewhere in New York, a dozen protesters unfurled a banner inside the Guggenheim Museum over unfair pay, and the museum was forced to close for the day. The protest was to challenge the museum’s alleged exploitation of laborers as it expands in Abu Dhabi.

According to the New York Times, advocates say workers pay recruitment and transit fees to be hired by construction companies that are overseen by the government in Abu Dhabi. Critics say the government takes the workers’ passports hostage, provides substandard housing and makes them work brutal schedules.

Hundreds mparticipated in May Day rallies in other US cities, including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle, to demand rights for workers and immigrants, and an end to police brutality.

Several hundred people marched in Oakland, California, with some holding signs saying, “Racism is the Disease.” Others said they wanted better wages and working conditions for the masses.

In Los Angeles, a dozen protesters rallied before dawn to encourage the implementation of President Obama's program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.

The annual May 1 marches are rooted in labor movements, which hold annual demonstrations in a myriad of countries calling for improved workers' rights. In recent years, marches in the United States got a boost from immigrants seeking authorization to live and work in the country legally.