News & Politics

Despite the City Being Shut Down, People Still Protested for May Day

ShutDownDC was there, along with a huge group of truckers and Reopen America

Photo by Evy Mages
Coronavirus 2020

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Yesterday, hundreds of protesters showed up in downtown DC to recognize May Day, also known as International Workers Day. Though the city was shut down, people got creative and found ways to protest while social distancing (for the most part). Here are some of the groups we saw.

Reopen America

Wanting to “show support for the President,” and “stand in solidarity with other Reopen protests across the country,” protesters donning MAGA hats and sporting Old Glory designs staked out Lafayette Park in front of the White House.

Alexander Duvel, a local stagehand, was there, frustrated about his inability to work. A woman wrapped in a rainbow “Don’t Tread On Me” flag explained how doctors are being told to report some car crash victims as Covid-19 deaths (she was unable to provide sourcing for this contention).

The group had initially hoped for hundreds of participants, Duvel said. On Friday, they were hoping to get 40. But no more than five people showed up, and the gaggle disseminated after a few hours.


Once again taking to the streets via bike, ShutDownDC acted in solidarity with workers striking at corporations across the country. Looping around the National Mall on Constitution and Pennsylvania Aves., the two dozen cyclists played homemade percussion instruments and shouted protest chants.

Among the protesters were Sean, a local nurse who highlighted the need for public healthcare to combat the pandemic, and Sha Grogan-Brown, who showed up with the littlest protester, Tighe.

“This government likes to bail out the banks, but the people who need it don’t get support,” Grogan-Brown said. “We’re calling for a ‘people’s bailout,’ and to reduce the military budget and use the money to get people back to work.”

After puffing their way up Capitol Hill and coasting past the Hubert H. Humphrey building shouting “HHS do your job,” the cyclists reached the end of their route at 14th and Constitution, where they were greeted by 40 cars filled with ShutDownDC protesters. Covered in art with phrases like “Stand With Workers,” “We Need a Just Recovery,” and an obligatory “Fuck Trump,” drivers laid on their horns and clanged cowbells while the cyclists blocked the intersection and hyped up the crowd with bullhorns.

Small Business Truckers

Semis lined both sides of Constitution Avenue between 14 and 17th streets as part of a trucker protest against unfair wages and broker gouging.

Tony Delgado had brought his small fleet all the way from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to call for more regulations in wage transparency. He said there are some trips where he’s paid $300 but loses $180 in tolls. He and the other truckers want to be able to see how much the brokers (the middlemen) are charging their customers so they can ensure they’re being paid fairly.

Some of the truckers social distanced on their rigs, while others broke out lawn chairs and congregated on the sidewalks. Waving American flags and colorful signs, the truckers laid on their horns, creating a cacophony that could be heard half a mile away.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.