LAS VEGAS (AP) — Several thousand union members and activists added the Las Vegas Strip to the places around the nation hosting May Day marches, with a loud and colorful rally over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
For about an hour, hotel workers ending their shifts joined colleagues in red Culinary Union T-Shirts to chant slogans and wave signs while walking past some of the resort corridor’s most recognizable casino properties — the Venetian, Palazzo, Treasure Island and Caesars Palace — and across an Interstate 15 overpass for a rally at a vacant lot near the Palms hotel-casino.
“I just have goosebumps,” said Katie Sabella, a nurse from Denver who applauded from the sidewalk as the tub-thumping and horn-playing procession marched past on a warm spring evening.
The event remained peaceful, and a firm crowd count wasn’t immediately available from police who shepherded the demonstrators along.
The event was dubbed the Unity March for Immigrants, said Bethany Khan, an official with the powerful Culinary Union, which led the march. A tractor-trailer from with the local Teamsters Union brought up the rear.
“People are expressing themselves civilly and peacefully,” said Jack Joyce, a tourist from Boston who sipped a beer and watched from in front of a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant at the Flamingo resort. “But I don’t agree with them, even remotely.”
Joyce wondered how many marchers are in the U.S. illegally, and noted that his grandparents emigrated from Ireland.
“Legally,” Joyce said. “There’s the key point. You gotta do it legally.”
The union says more than half of its 57,000 hotel and restaurant workers are women and Hispanic, and many are fearful of Trump administration policies including the arrests of people who are in the country illegally.
Labor and Latinos proved to be a powerful combination in Nevada in November, when voters went Democratic in a presidential contest that saw most other states go Republican. Hispanics account for about 28 percent of Nevada’s population.
Among the marchers, Patricia Guzman, 30, said she came to the U.S. as a 10-year-old from Mexico with her father, who became a naturalized citizen. Guzman, a union member, works at a Las Vegas Strip hotel.
“You know what? I’m here, and I work to make America great again,” she said.
The May Day event in Las Vegas had backing from nearly 20 unions and organizations including advocates for a $15 minimum wage, Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, Battle Born Progress, members of the UndocuNetwork at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Black Democratic Empowerment Project.
“It’s a convergence of people — construction workers, immigrant rights advocates and labor unions,” said Laura Martin, associate director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.
A rally was also planned in Reno. Martin said the event had support from Women and Children of the Sierra, Reno-Sparks NAACP, Tu Casa Latina and Chispa Nevada.