May 1 is traditionally a day of international protest and solidarity, primarily in support of the rights of the working class. However, there are also frequently protests supporting other, similarly aligned causes on May Day, and this year is no exception. This afternoon, in support of the protestors in Baltimore who have taken to the streets to rally against police brutality and seek justice for the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, Union Square will be the starting point for a protest and subsequent march for Gray.
The march starts at 5:00pm and will follow the May Day rally which began at 3pm. The group organizing this march is attempting to call attention to the fact that Black Lives Matter, and show solidarity with the protestors in Baltimore and all across the country who have had enough of the brutalization of black and brown men and women at the hands of the police.
And as the 143 arrests of protestors on Wednesday night’s march demonstrated, the NYPD is not being unaggressive in its attempts to prevent the type of marches seen in the aftermath of the Eric Garner grand jury decision, during which major New York transportation arteries like the Brooklyn Bridge and the West Side Highway were shut down. Mayor de Blasio has said that while he strongly believes in non-violent protest, he just as strongly feels like protestors should do exactly what the NYPD tells them, stressing, “It’s not debatable.”
Also not debatable, though, is the fact that scarcely a week seems to go by without more news about an unarmed black man—or even boy, as in the case of Tamir Rice—who has been murdered by police who are rarely held accountable for their crimes. And until this type of police brutality is sufficiently addressed, the voices of those oppressed deserve to be heard. Even if that risks snarling up a Friday afternoon commute.