Spokane’s May Day March takes stand against local agencies working with border patrol

May 2, 2019

A group of protesters that gathered Wednesday in Riverfront Park is calling on Spokane County officials to stop working with border patrol agents.

During Spokane’s May Day March – a national event that supports workers’ and immigrants’ rights – a few hundred people marched from the park to the Spokane County Jail to spread their message.

“As we know, Spokane needs a lot of work,” said event organizer Martin Martinez. “We want to keep people working and enforce police not to work with (U.S. Customs and Border Protection.)”

Spokane was the scene of a recent incident in which a Portland comedian was allegedly unlawfully detained at the Spokane Intermodal Center. The comedian, Mohanad Elshieky, said he was accused of being in the country illegally, even though he showed the agents an Oregon driver’s license card. He is now suing the federal agency, he announced last week.

Jesus Policarpo referenced such incidents as reasons that he came to Spokane on Wednesday to march with the protesters.

Policarpo, a student at Washington State University in Pullman, said “people have been getting detained for no reason other than looking brown.”

The Center for Justice monitored the march to act as legal observers and provide video evidence of anything that might impede the protesters’ right to assemble, said executive director Dainen Penta. The Spokane Peace and Justice Action League also gave protesters support by blocking traffic during the march and ensuring safety.

In addition to the request for local agencies such as the Spokane County Jail and Greyhound Lines to stop working with federal immigration agencies, event organizers invited Native American and Mexican dancers to showcase some of their cultural dances.

The May Day March “is a bit of an ask,” said Martinez, “and a bit of tradition.”