Over the past two years, May Day has leapt into the center of attention for urban activists in Portland. It has become a comprehensive grab bag for the city's political malcontents. Some carried pictures of caged monkeys; others held signs declaring, "Free Palestine." Still others chanted, "Hunger is Terrorism."
But unlike last year's event that served equally as a call for workers' rights and a protest against police brutality, this year organizers funneled their varied concerns into a fine-pointed statement against Taco Bell and its alleged exploitation of farm workers--namely, tomato pickers who have not received more than a one-penny per pound wage increase since 1978.
The parade began in the grassy Park Blocks and marched directly up Burnside, stopping rush hour traffic in its tracks. Along the way, a handful of activists carried signs that declared, "No Quiero Mas," and showed the food giant mascot--a smug Chihuahua--wearing a Che Guevara beret. But until the crowd reached the Taco Bell store and listened to brief speeches, many in attendance were unaware of the parade's exact purpose.
"I think that we're protesting immigrant rights in California," said one protestor who was chanting spiritedly against Taco Bell.