By Wilson Walker

OAKLAND (KPIX) — A coalition of labor groups launched the first of several May Day protests in Oakland with a car caravan through the city that ended with the occupation of a home in West Oakland.

About two dozen workers’ groups started at the Lake Merritt BART station and spread out in a bicycle-and-car caravan that criss-crossed Oakland for several hours. Participants called for greater worker compensation and protections, pointing to the pandemic as having exposed the struggle of many American workers.

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“It helped people to see just how vulnenerable the working class is,” said Eve Stardust.

The United States has 4 percent of the population and 20 percent of the COVID deaths,” said Rachel Jackson of People’s Strike Bay Area. “That’s concentrated among people of color, the elderly and a lot of that has been its workers.”

The motorcade, which stretched for several blocks, passed a number of businesses that have been the focus of recent labor discussions.

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“That’s why we’re doing the kind of caravan we’re doing,” Jackson said. “Going to Amazon, Whole Foods and then going to support some folks who are advocating for housing.”

The location of that rendezvous at the end of the caravan was not announced ahead of time.

It ultimately turned out to be a vacant house that protesters claimed to have occupied. The house sits near the intersection of Chase and Wood Streets in West Oakland and it was not immediately clear who owned the home, how long the group intended to occupy it or if anyone planned to move in.

More protests were planned for later Saturday night in Oakland.

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Police have warned downtown businesses that some protesters may intend to cause property damage.