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Residents called for unity in the fight for fair wages, universal healthcare, and dismantling of the Baltimore Police department

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TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham, reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.

Today we take the eight hour workday for granted, but things like weekends and worker safety were unheard of in the 19th century, which is why people around the world celebrate May Day: to commemorate the beginning of a labor movement that has changed the way we work. The holiday is tied to a dramatic event in Labor history, the Haymarket bombing in Chicago, which killed half a dozen police officers and many labor activists. It was a gathering to protest for an eight hour workday.

But today in Baltimore, we talk to marchers who gathered near City Hall for their own May Day celebration to discuss the present state of labor, and how the past informs the present, and their hopes for the future.

REV. ANNIE CHAMBERS: Well, May Day is, first of all, for the workers. And why it’s important to me, not just in Baltimore but all over this country, is that it is a time that people could come together, because that’s the beginning. That was the starting of May Day. That’s what it was about, to come together and fight.

DAVID BART: To me May Day means everybody standing together for our mutual benefit. It’s the opportunity to show that we work to help one another, which is what I believe the fundamental basis of this country ought to be. Working together to lift each other up, rather than creating hierarchies that keep people down.

STEPHEN JANIS: This is like a new uniform? You can’t talk-. But this kind of looks militaristic. Is this a military uniform? Or, I’ve never seen it before. You can’t talk. What did he say?

TAYA GRAHAM: He said he can’t talk on camera. But it’s not military?

STEPHEN JANIS: But doesn’t it look kind of military? I mean, not-. When did the department start issuing these uniforms? You can’t talk. All right.

TAYA GRAHAM: So they’re not just asking for a $10 minimum wage. They’re not just asking for their neighborhoods not to be gentrified. They’re also asking that police officers who commit crimes against residents be held accountable. And what’s interesting is that we have, or rather the protesters, have been followed by police this entire time, as well as, I don’t know if you can hear it, but Foxtrot has been overhead, the helicopter, the police helicopter, has been circling and following these protesters the entire time. So they had an escort at least five police officers, as well as a police helicopter escorting them throughout the city during their peaceful protest while they’re asking for police accountability.

RYAN SULLIVAN: We’re seeing, you know, attacks on immigrant communities, we’re seeing attacks on the homeless. We’re seeing attacks on workers, which ultimately drives down wages, exacerbates a lot of social ills, and ultimately creates a less safe and less egalitarian society.

DAISY ROSS: You know, the current minimum wage, which is, what is it, $8? That is not enough for people to be supporting themselves. And honestly, these, these minimum wage jobs are some of the riskies.t the people who are making, like, $30 an hour in air controlled offices versus people who are flipping burgers at McDonald’s, getting burned constantly, getting yelled at constantly, having to be hustling, hustling, hustling for eight or more hours a day. They deserve more.

JOHN: So the sign is for Justice for Baltimore Workers. We’re out here fighting for $15 an hour. We’re fighting for health care for workers. Especially a end to sub-minimum wages for service workers. I am a bartender myself. It is very, very hard to live on tip share. And we’re also out here, you know, fighting to abolish the BPD.

TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.

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Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.