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caption: A crowd marches on Pine Street toward the U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, during the 20th annual May Day march in Seattle.
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A crowd marches on Pine Street toward the U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, during the 20th annual May Day march in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle's May Day rally heads to Olympia via car caravan

Social distancing measures have forced immigrant and worker rights advocates to rethink this year’s May Day rallies.

Seattle’s annual march to downtown is now a car caravan to Olympia.

May Day or International Workers' Day would typically be a noisy event.

In the Northwest, it usually brings thousands of attendants to Seattle, many equipped with instruments that fill the streets with jazz music or drums. Aztec dancers would also perform in their colorful regalia on the street. And chants of "Si se puede" would echo throughout the day.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, it will sound more like car horns and the rumble of traffic. That’s because organizers are asking people to jump in their cars and drive down to Olympia.

Juan Jose Bocanegra is one of the organizers of the annual event. He says they considered cancelling this year’s gathering. But they thought it was vital to keep the tradition of May Day going, especially now because of some critical issues they're seeing during the pandemic.

"We want to make sure that the state government, who also benefits a lot from the work, sweat and tears of farm workers and essential workers, that they provide the kind of support that every resident should get and deserves to get. The state of Washington can provide that type of justice."

Organizers also want undocumented families to have more access to Covid relief funds at the state and federal level.

He says they expect at least 50 cars, coming from Yakima, Bellingham, and Seattle. They will also be live streaming the event to those at home.

Bocanegra added that they are still following public health precautions.

“We’re asking people to not get out of their cars. Bring masks, gloves. This is an unprecedented situation.”