WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- Activists marching for May Day, the annual nationwide rallying cry for workers' rights, are broadening their message Friday to include immigration, police brutality and civil rights issues.
May Day, known as International Workers' Day, has historically seen labor demonstrators taking to the streets to voice workers' rights, but in recent years, immigration issues have been added. This year, marches in support of "Black Lives Matter," a growing movement in reaction to the high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police, are scheduled to coincide with May Day.
Events are being held in cities that include New York, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland, Ore. In California's Bay Area, the message is being taken one step further to include Silicon Valley's "tech elite," the growing gentrification by high-paid tech employees.
"It is important to support movements and struggles that stand up for people being singled out by the system. Right now, immigrants share that distinction with African-American youth, that we are being targeted by the system," Miguel Paredes, membership coordinator of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told NBC Bay Area.
Thousands marched in Los Angeles midday Friday, urging an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, fair law enforcement practices and upholding President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.
"So we're going to be here on the streets by the thousands to remind the Congress that more than the political game – this is about human lives," Juan Gutierrez said. "We're determined to continue on this political marathon until we cross the finish line."
In Seattle, the history of May Day is a rocky one, marred by vandalism and violence. While the largest march of the day -- the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights -- is largely peaceful, other events, like the annual anti-capitalist march, are less so. In 2014, the group marched for hours before lighting fires near the state Capitol.
Seattle Police Capt. Chris Fowler, who leads the department's response to May Day demonstrations, said the department is prepared to handle the crowds.
"I think the vast majority of people in Seattle understand that everybody has a right to express their opinions peacefully in a nonviolent way," he said. "But at the end of the day, if they commit acts of violence, they expect us to have some response to that. We've trained for that, and we're prepared to do that."
New Yorkers will observe May Day with a parade in Midtown in the late afternoon. The evening rally, planned before Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced six police officers were being charged in Freddie Gray's homicide, is planned to "stand in solidarity with Baltimore," said Charles Jenkins, co-coordinator of the May 1st Coalition.
"We are still trying to come to grips with the savage killing of Walter Scott killed in South Carolina, shot in the back running away from a police officer who decided to murder Scott in cold blood," Jenkins said. "The war on black lives continues from Michael Brown to Eric Garner and countless others. The common thread all black and brown people are killed by white police officers."
New York demonstrations earlier this week in support of Baltimore resulted in 143 arrests after protesters shut down major city locations, including the Holland Tunnel and the West Side Highway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a stern warning for Friday night's protests: "When the police give you instruction, you follow the instruction. It's not debatable. And I'm saying this as someone who has been at these protests and recognize when the police say 'stay to the sidewalk,' it means stay to the sidewalk. And that has to be respected."