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    Trump proclaims Loyalty Day as protests flare

    May Day marches usually involve workers’ rights; this year much of the focus was on the president’s policies.
    Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
    May Day marches usually involve workers’ rights; this year much of the focus was on the president’s policies.

    NEW YORK — President Trump proclaimed Monday to be Loyalty Day, a time for Americans to reaffirm their commitment to “individual liberties, limited government, and the inherent dignity of every human being” with Pledge of Allegiance ceremonies and a display of American flags.

    Monday, however, was also a major day of protest for those who oppose the administration. Organizers expanded annual May Day events, which traditionally highlight labor issues, into a day of demonstrations for the rights of immigrants, women, workers, and gay men and lesbians.

    Protesters shouted ‘‘Donald Trump has got to go!’’ at the White House gates. They filled streets in downtown Chicago.


    Teachers working without contracts opened the day by picketing outside schools in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Activists in Phoenix petitioned legislators to support immigrant families.

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    The events sparked at least four arrests after a human chain blocked a county building in Oakland, Calif., as demonstrators demanded the county refuse to collaborate with US immigration agents, the Associated Press reported.

    In Los Angeles, thousands of people gathered in MacArthur Park in the heavily Latino neighborhood of Westlake. The protesters, carrying American flags and signs reading ‘‘Love not hate,’’ marched about two miles to City Hall, where several elected officials spoke.

    In New York, while protesters in Union Square and Washington Square Park waved signs with slogans in Spanish, like “Workers united will never be defeated,” immigrant enclaves were quieter than usual Monday. The protests culminated in an evening Foley Square rally.

    Thousands turned out in Miami; Milwaukee; Raleigh, N.C.; Scranton, Pa.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. In Homestead, Fla., immigrant farmworkers went on strike for the day.


    Some corporations, including Google and Facebook, gave workers the opportunity to march without fear of retribution.

    Labor and immigrants’ rights activists had called for a general strike to boycott Trump’s policies, but the number of immigrants sitting out work did not appear to match the levels during February’s “Day Without Immigrants.”

    About 300 people gathered at a Home Depot near Minneapolis to protest what they said were the antilabor practices of some local janitorial companies that clean stores for Home Depot, Sears, and other retailers.

    “We have no benefits. No vacation. We don’t have anything,” said Antonia Sanchez, a Mexican immigrant who has worked for such a contractor for nine years. “It doesn’t matter if we are black, white, or brown,’’ she said. “What matters is that we stay united and fight for what we deserve.”

    In Austin, Texas, some advocates staged a sit-in at the office of Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, to oppose the Texas House of Representatives’ passage of legislation that would punish local officials and cities for refusing to help the federal government with deportations.


    Outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco, protesters blocked an intersection.

    At the New York rally, Damian Rodriguez, owner of First Class Car and Limo Service in Inwood, said his company had given its 400 drivers the option of staying home, and about 20 percent of them accepted Monday morning, when local elected officials had encouraged drivers to go on strike.

    He said he had also tracked the number of calls received during the morning rush hour, and it had fallen by about 20 percent, compared with a usual weekday morning.

    “We all have family members and acquaintances who are affected, who don’t have their papers and are afraid,” he said. “We do not agree with what’s happening.”

    Still, for at least one limousine driver, taking the day off was simply unaffordable. As he bought coffee and a pastry at a Dominican bakery in the Washington Heights section of New York, Fernando Garcia, 49, explained that because he was a partner in his company, they all had to contribute equally or the business would suffer. Rent was due May 1, he added, and peoples’ bank balances dipped.

    “I’m going to work today because without work, who’s going to pay the bills?” he said in Spanish, to a murmur of approval from a bakery worker behind the counter.

    There is a long tradition of protest around the world on May Day, known in most other countries as International Workers’ Day.

    But the last time any May Day filled streets across the country with large numbers of demonstrators was in 2006, when more than 1 million people in hundreds of cities took part in a Day Without Immigrants to protest federal legislation that would have made it a felony to live in the country without legal status.

    Then, the marchers sought immigration overhaul. The demands this time around are more basic: To many would-be protesters, even a return to the status quo before Trump was elected would feel something like a win.

    “Trump has pitted the US working class against migrant workers and refugees, and so we must strive to create bridges, not bans or walls, to connect our struggles together,” representatives of the International Migrants Alliance wrote in its call to assemble on May 1, describing Trump as “a brazenly fascist, racist and anti-immigrant president.”

    Former president Barack Obama also proclaimed May 1 as Loyalty Day, and previous presidents have chosen days other than May 1.