Thousands march for immigrant rights

May Day rallies take place in Seattle, other Northwest cities

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SEATTLE — Thousands of people marched about 21/2 miles from the Central District toward Seattle's downtown Jackson Federal Building on Wednesday after a May Day rally supporting immigrant rights and labor.

Many carried signs with messages such as "We are America," and "There are no illegal humans." One sign suggested forgetting about marijuana and instead asking the United States to "Legalize my mom," a reference to Washington's recent legalization of marijuana.

The crowd chanted "Si se puede," Spanish for "Yes, we can," and a rallying cry for the United Farm Workers. Many wore bright purple, red or orange shirts, identifying them with their unions.

Josie Garcia, a 23-year-old restaurant server, carried her 3-year-old son on her shoulders.

"My whole family is here," she said. "There's a lot of immigrants that need an opportunity that have been here all their lives."

Earlier in the day, dozens gathered in Seattle's retail corridor around noon under a heavy police presence.

Some demonstrators with their faces covered by bandanas taunted police with obscenities. Police said there had been no problems.

On Wednesday evening, there were anti-capitalism protests and marches in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood with dozens of people, featuring a band and public speakers. Police said they would continue monitoring events into the night.

Last year on May Day, some marchers broke downtown windows and set fires.

Other demonstrations and rallies were in Olympia, Mount Vernon, Spokane, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.

In Olympia, people gathered at a downtown park to listen to music, then marched peacefully through several city blocks. About 100 people carried signs and upside-down flags.

"May Day is a festive day; it's about spring. It will be nice to get everybody else and talking," said Mary Hath Spokane, 67, who was dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

About a dozen Olympia police officers in riot gear followed the marchers as they wound through the downtown core. After the parade ended, they got in their trucks and left to the cheers of the crowd.

Portland march

A May Day march composed of a variety of unrelated but unified causes snaked its way through downtown Portland on Wednesday, snarling traffic but ending without violence.

Wednesday's actions attracted hundreds of people. It blocked one of Portland's main bridges to the west side and clogged another busy east-west artery through the city center.

Police presence was heavy, especially during the latter stages of the march.

Previous protests have culminated in violence, but no major scuffles broke out Wednesday.

The march included protests from immigrant-rights groups, anarchists, anti-foreclosure advocates, unions and groups calling for stronger regulation of banks.