Zoom In: May Day Protester Portraits

May 2, 2014 | Aymann Ismail

“Jobs are modern day slavery,” Pastor Brown told me at the annual May Day protest gathering in Union Square. Others suggested getting rid of NATO and promoting “psychoanalytic education.” There were socialists, secularists, anarchists, groups representing people of the Dominican Republic, Palestine, the Philippines and though it was very loud, the overarching message was clear: Raise the minimum wage and support migrant rights. See their photos and quotes in the gallery above.

The attendance was dramatically smaller compared to previous years. The tone was very melancholy and serious, until Occupy Wall Street busted out with their minimum-wage-centric take on Pharrell’s “Happy.”

In some elements, it was a little absurd. There were a few gawkers and one dude was just there to sell Anonymous masks. And one man actually said, “I am here supporting president Bashaar Assad and to oppose the terrorist war on Syria.” There was also a small counter-protest opposing immigration. One of them told me, “You have know who is coming into this country… I don’t know who the hell any of these people are!” after she demanded to see my identification. I guess she didn’t like my face or something. Check back every Friday for a new photo essay. (Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)