Statement on May Day Arrests

It is the official position of the Chicago branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) that the actions of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the marshals affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) at the May 1st March to Stop Deportations were grossly inappropriate and condemnable. In collusion with the CPD, these marshals singled out and physically restrained two activists, leading to their arrests. While the arrests occurred, the marshals attempted to surround and enclose members of the IWW’s Red and Black Brigade contingent of the march, blocking their freedom of movement. The marshals also directed other participants to move past the enclosed contingent, preventing the other marchers from showing solidarity with the arrestees.

Jose “Zé” Garcia and Anne Meredith Wooton, the activists arrested during the march, have the full support of the Chicago branch of the IWW. Zé was released without charges, and Anne Meredith is facing misdemeanor charges. Zé is an outspoken advocate against ICIRR’s reformist policies, and actively spreads awareness of their tactics against dissenters. They are currently in the midst of fighting their own deportation. These facts, along with witness testimonials, suggest that these arrests may have been politically motivated. ICIRR’s official statement is that it was not their intention for these arrests to occur, while SEIU has not, to our knowledge, commented on the incident.

The actions of the marshals enabled the arrests. It is important that public marches be open to all who wish to participate without fear of state harassment, repression, and persecution. Above all, no one should be singled out for arrest based on their residency status—especially at a march against deportations. Given the historical legacy of May Day, it is crucial that anti-authoritarian and dissenting voices not be silenced by the state or its collaborators. If organizers expect broad participation at marches in the future, they must ensure that marshals do not aid in arrests and that solidarity with anyone who may be arrested is allowed. The IWW will always stand by the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Zé has set up a GoFundMe page where you can read their personal account of the incident and donate to, in their own words, “help me fight my deportation so I can continue my fight against a brutal and illegitimate regime, my fight against the sellouts, my fight against EVERY deportation.”

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