Rallies were held on Friday in at least 10 states, including New York, which has led the country in COVID-19 deaths.
At New York’s state Capitol in Albany, protesters chanted slogans and waved flags. Counter-protesters staged their own rallies in support of keeping non-essential businesses closed.
Some workers at Amazon, Target, and other companies staged protests and sick-outs in New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and other states to demand a safer work environment and better pay during the outbreak.
California has also seen protests over Governor Gavin Newsom’s sweeping stay-at-home orders.
There were about a dozen organized rallies in California’s largest cities including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
In Los Angeles, street vendors drove around City Hall in a caravan pleading for rent relief in a May Day demonstration, saying they have been unable to obtain unemployment assistance because of the informal nature of their work or because of their immigration status.
In Huntington Beach, located south of Los Angeles, protesters swarmed the streets, backing up traffic for at least a mile along Pacific Coast Highway.
People carried signs reading “Open Cali now.” A plane buzzed overhead with a sign reading “Fire gruesome Newsom! Open California.”
The rally attendants demanded workers’ rights as well as aid for people affected by the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, hundreds of protesters, some armed with rifles, gathered at Michigan’s state Capitol in Lansing objecting to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request to extend the state’s stay-at-home order.
More than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the US economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.
Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is more people than live in the New York and Chicago metropolitan areas combined, and it’s by far the worst string of layoffs on record. It adds up to more than one in six American workers.
With more employers cutting payrolls to save money, economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%. That would be the highest rate since it reached 25% during the Great Depression.