New Haven ‘May Day’ protests take on new urgency under Trump

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Just like every time May 1st, comes in New Haven, vendors and workers’ rights advocates gathered on the Green to celebrate past labor victories and push for more. But this year, under the administration of President Donald Trump, the gathering took on a new sense of urgency.

With every tug on the locked door by a hungry customer, and every person politely turned away during what is usually normal business hours, Tiago Pavuna is losing money from his usual lunch crowd.

“This is the business district and especially for lunch, most of these people come and have lunch with me,” Pavuna said. “So I’m definitely going to feel the impact today.”

He owns the “Taste of Brazil” restaurant in downtown New Haven. He closed up shop Monday, to stand in solidarity with laborers and workers. On this May Day 2017, the theme is “a day without workers”. In particular, immigrant workers like himself, and what America would look like if those workers suddenly vanished, by the millions.

“I’m a Brazilian by birth, but American by heart,” Pavuna said. “I love this country. And I feel like I’m not doing something for the immigrants, but for the country as well.”

With roots going all the way back to the late 1880s, May 1st, has long been a day for workers to organize and push for fairness. Monday, the New Haven Green filled with the usual vendors, worker’s rights advocates, and others, all there to celebrate the day.
But this year has taken on another issue of importance to grassroots organizations, as undocumented immigrant workers are fearful under the new Trump administration.

“With the current administration, we’re seeing a lot of people terrified to go to work,” said Jesus Morales, a volunteer with New Haven-based Unidad Latina En Accion. “They’re terrified of even leaving their homes.”

As proof, they point to the plight of Luis Barrios. An undocumented working father from Derby, who was always considered low priority for removal, but now in danger of being deported back to Guatemala.

“A person who has lived here for almost 25 years,” Morales said. “In 2011, he got an infraction for a broken taillight. Now he has until May 4 to leave the country.”

A protest march from downtown to Fair Haven, will conclude May Day 2017 in New Haven. Protest marches were also planned for Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury, as well as other major cities across the country.

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