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‘Superpeaceful’ May Day protest on Las Vegas Strip draws thousands

Updated May 2, 2017 - 12:35 am

Holding a bright green sign above her head, Amy Escuerdo walked with her husband Monday afternoon in a sea of at least 3,000 on the Las Vegas Strip, marching in solidarity with Nevada’s immigrant workers and families for May Day.

Escuerdo, a 27-year-old special education teacher at Whitney Elementary School, said she and her husband, who is also a teacher, came out in support of her young students, many of whom are immigrants.

“A lot of times, schools brush it under the rug like it’s not an issue, but it is,” Escuerdo said. “It’s something our students worry about every day.”

Her sign read, “I am an unafraid educator.”

May Day — which falls on May 1 — is also known as International Workers Day, which began in the late 19th century after a series of turbulent labor protests advocating for an eight-hour workday. The local march Monday focused on “standing united for immigrants,” because many of Nevada’s workers are immigrants, Bethany Khan, spokeswoman for Culinary Local 226, said.

“The Culinary union is Nevada’s largest union, but we’re also Nevada’s largest immigrant organization,” she said. The union serves about 57,000 workers from more than 150 countries.

As the marchers on Las Vegas Boulevard weaved west onto Flamingo Road, chanting, “Love — not hate — makes America great,” a man in a Caesars Palace uniform stood on the sidewalk, smiling and sipping water.

“I’m on my break,” he said, taking in the scene for a few minutes before retreating into the resort.

Among the many protesters was Nicole Galinda, who is not a union member but marched in support of immigrant families. She was joined by her husband and four children as passing drivers honked and waved at the crowd.

Signs with messages including, “No ban, no wall” and “No human being is illegal” hovered above their heads.

There was no organized counter protest, but one man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat stood on the Caesars Palace sidewalk, holding a sign that read, “I’m an immigrant for Trump.”

The man, of Las Vegas, declined to provide his name, but said he came out after hearing about the march through local media.

Warren Markowitz, the Clark County chairman of the American Independent Party, said he would have planned a counter protest if he’d been aware “there was actually going to be such a large showing.”

“I think people have lost sight of the fact that America’s not for everyone,” Markowitz, who didn’t learn of the local march until Sunday, said by phone Monday. “For instance, I’m from New York. I came to Nevada because I wanted to make my life better. I didn’t try to turn Nevada into New York. And a lot of people come and expect us to conform to them.”

Lt. Grant Rogers, with the Metropolitan Police Department, said there were no arrests at the event, which ended with a large rally just west of the Strip. He added that the march was “super peaceful.”

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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