May 2, 2020 / 2:35 AM / a month ago

'No $, no rent' - protesters call for economic help at New York May Day demonstrations

A sign is displayed on a car in Times Square amid a driving caravan protest calling for workers' rights and cancelling the rent payment during May Day protests in Manhattan, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City, New York, U.S., May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Protesters in New York City staged a rolling demonstration from their cars to mark May Day on Friday, calling on the government to protect workers’ rights and provide aid to help people reeling economically from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

The caravan of cars rolled through a largely empty Times Square, honking their horns and displaying banners saying: ‘Cancel the Rent.’ New York has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

One woman hung a banner outside of her car saying, “No $, no rent.”

“People are struggling right now,” Perla Liberato, a protester with the Make the Road New York activist group, told Reuters. “People are not able to pay rent.”

Liberato said a lot of people were not working, including undocumented migrants who had not received any financial help. “So we want to make sure the rent is canceled. Until we know what’s going to happen next.”

Street protesters laid out mock body bags to represent people who have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. Some 13,000 people have died in New York City alone.

The auto procession also traveled to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, where they were joined by a mariachi band, and a penthouse apartment owned by Amazon.com Inc chief executive Jeff Bezos. Demonstrators held signs that read, ‘#MAKE BILLIONAIRES PAY’.

There are signs the worst of the coronavirus outbreak may have passed in New York state, although stay-at-home restrictions remain. There were 289 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, down from 306 a day earlier and the lowest death toll since March 29. Hospitalizations also fell to their lowest level in more than one month.

Reporting by Mike Segar, Aleksandra Michalska, Soren Larson and Dan Fastenberg; Writing by Diane Craft; editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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