Thousands Gather in DTLA for Annual May Day March

May 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A sea of humanity moved through the streets of downtown Los Angeles today for the annual May Day march, with organizers and participants saying distaste for the presidential policies of Donald Trump led
more people than usual to take part.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in MacArthur Park for the march dubbed “Resist Los Angeles,” designed to be a show of “resistance, unity and defiance” against such White House policies as ramped-up enforcement of immigration laws and an effort to build a massive border wall.

“It’s about showing that people who are working-class matter,” marcher Miguel Cruz told CBS2 as the crowd gathered at MacArthur Park, preparing for the trek to City Hall.

Various organizations that have planned marches in the past joined forces this year, uniting under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles” and organizing the march from MacArthur Park to Los Angeles City Hall.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

It marks the first time in more than 10 years there has been such unity among organizers of May Day marches. Organizers predicted that more than 100,000 people would participate in the “Resist Los Angeles” event. While thousands of people were participating, the crowd appeared to be well short of
the six-figure mark as it neared City Hall. The Los Angeles Police Department had not given an official crowd estimate as of early afternoon.

At MacArthur Park, musician Tom Morello of the band Rage Against the Machine was among those rallying the crowd before the march began.

Juan Jose Gutierrez, national coordinator of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, said the march will send a message to the administration of President Donald Trump that “our just struggle for comprehensive
immigration reform with a path to citizenship is here to stay until we win it.”

Organizers also called for a general strike in recognition of May Day.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Together we know that we can stop a Trump agenda, a Trump agenda that wants to build a wall, not build better lives, but build a wall. We know that if we march on May 1 we can continue to stop an agenda that seeks to penalize workers,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane
Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a candidate for governor, was among those taking part in the march.

“This year you’re going to see an unprecedented number of people here in Los Angeles, primarily because of what’s going on with Trump and his administration — the ban, the wall, the talk of deporting 11 million people.

“Nobody’s ever done that anywhere, he told KCAL9. “I think for all of those reasons you’re going to see an outpouring of people today.”

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Marchers carried a large U.S. flag, and many carried signs with messages such as “Rise Up LA,” “Stop LAPD cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)” and “ICE out of California.”

Among those expected to speak at a May Day rally at City Hall are Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl, various religious and union leaders and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles.

At 3:30 p.m., another march will be held in Boyle Heights, beginning at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Evergreen Street and ending at Mariachi Plaza at First and Boyle streets.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Meanwhile, a group of pro-Trump activists held a gathering of its own. About 100 Trump supporters stood in front of the downtown Federal Building, chanting and carrying signs and U.S. flags while police kept traffic moving on North Los Angeles Street. A dozen or so anti-Trump protesters – many wearing
black clothing with ski masks covering their faces – stood outside yellow police tape occasionally trying to shout down a Trump supporter. One person set fire to an American flag as tensions heightened, and an anti-Trump protester, his face covered, was handcuffed and placed in a police van.

Trump supporters chanted slogans including “Put America first” and “USA,” while some carried signs with messages such as “Repeal Obamacare” and “Trump – Make America Great Again!” Led by a phalanx of Los Angeles police officers, the Trump group marched from the Federal Building to LAPD headquarters.

Jo Reitkopp, chair of event organizer “Make California Great Again Inc.,” said Trump supporters wanted to “step up and stand for our country and its Constitution … for which millions of USA military men and women have lost their lives.”

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck vowed that officers would be out in force to ensure the demonstration remains peaceful. He asked marchers to remember that his officers are in support of them and are not representatives of the federal government.

“My message is this: I know there are a lot of folks that are upset about recent immigration issues, have other issues with the federal government. You know, remember this is our city. Your police department supports you,”

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Beck said during a recent appearance on ABC7. “We depend upon your cooperation. And let’s make this a demonstration of L.A. unity and not the things that divide us.”

Representatives from some community groups have called for a general strike in conjunction with the marches, even encouraging students to either not attend school or walk out of classes. There was even a call for the Los Angeles Unified School District to close for the day, but the district rejected the request.

“At the heart of this decision is our unwavering commitment to keep kids safe,” LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King wrote in a letter in early April. “Civic engagement undeniably plays a vital role in our democracy, and we embrace the rights of all students, families and employees to unite and magnify their voices locally so that their messages can resonate on a larger scale.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Nevertheless, schools continue to be the safest places for students to incubate an interest in civic engagement, and we encourage all schools to use May 1 as an opportunity to discuss matters of civic importance,” King wrote.

Some students have taken part in walkouts during past May Day events, but it was unclear if any similar actions were planned.

Organized ‘Resist’ance Planned for May Day Protest

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Saying the aggressive tactics of President Donald Trump have united them, members of dozens of organizations said Tuesday they are joining forces for the annual May Day march in Los Angeles, and they predicted a crowd of up to 100,000 people descending on city streets for Monday’s demonstration.

With the group banded under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles,” organizers said more than 100 groups have come together for a massive joint campaign, including the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, ACLU, and other unions. It will mark the first time in more than 10 years that all marches on May Day in the city have announced unity among the groups.

The march, called “Resist Los Angeles,” is scheduled to begin in MacArthur Park at 11 a.m. Monday and end at City Hall.

As many as one million people marched in Los Angeles for immigrants’ rights during previous May Day marches. Organizers of coming May 1 march hope to attract 100,000 protesters to downtown L.A. (EGP photo archives)

As many as one million people marched in Los Angeles for immigrants’ rights during previous May Day marches. Organizers of coming May 1 march hope to attract 100,000 protesters to downtown L.A. (EGP photo archives)

Protests marches in 2006 and 2007 drew hundreds of thousands of people in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Some estimates ran as high as 1 million people at the March 25, 2006 protest and rally, the largest of all protests held across the country that day.

Although the protest movement splintered in subsequent years over direction and leadership, with different groups holding competing marches, May Day protests have become a part of the ongoing national agenda, and continue to stress immigrant rights and immigration reform, as well as workers’ rights.

In 2010, 60 thousand people attended the May Day march to protest SB 1070, a controversial Arizona law that required police officers to check a person’s immigration status if they had “reasonable suspicion” the person was in the country illegally.

The courts largely ruled the law unconstitutional.

Trump’s stepped-up immigration enforcement orders, recent raids and other Trump policies have spurred a number of protest marches since his inauguration. Coalitions of groups from various backgrounds and causes are again uniting to fight back.

The rights of undocumented immigrants are again taking center stage.

Juan Jose Gutierrez, national coordinator of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, spoke Tuesday at a news conference at City Hall attended by several dozen organizers and said this year’s May Day march would send a message to the Trump administration that “our just struggle for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship is here to stay until we win it.”

Members of dozens of organizations predict a crowd of up to 100,000 people will descend on the streets of Los Angeles Monday. (EGP photo archives)

Members of dozens of organizations predict a crowd of up to 100,000 people will descend on the streets of Los Angeles Monday. (EGP photo archives)

Organizers are also calling for a general strike on May Day. They want people to refrain from economic activity, such as shopping or eating out at restaurants.

The San Gabriel Valley Sanctuary Coalition is calling on people to not go to work and for students to not go to school. They will hold a seperate march at 11 a.m., from Bassett High School to La Puente city Hall.

“Together we know that we can stop a Trump agenda, a Trump agenda that wants to build a wall, not build better lives, but build a wall. We know that if we march on May 1 we can continue to stop an agenda that seeks to penalize workers,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said officers will be out in force Monday to ensure the demonstration remains peaceful. He asked marchers to remember that his officers are in support of them and are not representatives of the federal government.

“My message is this: I know there are a lot of folks that are upset about recent immigration issues, have other issues with the federal government.

You know, remember this is our city. Your police department supports you,” Beck said during an appearance on ABC7. “We depend upon your cooperation. And let’s make this a demonstration of L.A. unity and not the things that divide us.”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

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