Immigrant Workers Moved by Show of Support

May 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Immigrant workers must speak up against the injustices they face, said Socorro Aranda Monday as she joined the thousands of people carrying signs and chanting during May Day marches and rallies in downtown Los Angeles.

With President Trump’s constant negative portrayal of immigrants, it’s more important than ever to speak out, said the 78-year-old native of Nicaragua.

“We did not come to take anybody’s job away,” Aranda said, before accusing Trump of failing the working class.

“We are just fighting for a living wage.”

Thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles Monday during the annual May Day marches. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles Monday during the annual May Day marches. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Traditionally a day to rally for workers’ rights, in recent years May 1 observances have evolved to include other social, political and civil rights issues, most notably rights for immigrants in the country illegally and for reforming U.S. immigration policies.

Monday, the focus was on resisting President Trump and his policies – on all fronts.

“We must not stand idly by and watch our country while it’s under attack,” said Maggie Reyes, 60, of Pasadena.

This year, May Day was not just about issues important to workers, but also a chance to voice opposition to the president’s rhetoric, and the consequences to those who don’t, labor attorney Glenn Rothner told EGP.

“I’m tired of Trump demonizing immigrants,” he said. “I hope the take away for leaders is that they should be running scared in 2018.”

Estimates on the number of people who took part in the May Day events vary, ranging from 15,000 to 30,000, less than a third of what organizers anticipated.

The protest march kicked off at MacArthur Park and ended with a rally at Los Angeles City Hall, where, as one speaker said, this was “not a party but a protest and a fight.”

While some protesters acknowledged it’s unlikely the president would be moved by their display of resistance, they were adamant about the importance of supporting those being targeted by his executive measures and constant attacks.

Carol Peralta, 23, marched for her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Central America.

“Our families may not be able to come out, out of fear, or they just don’t have the privilege of being able to take a day off from work, so we have to be here to represent them,” she told EGP.

Peralta said it made her hopeful to see it’s not just Latinos fighting Trump’s immigration stance.

“Even if they are not being affected by it directly, everyone can see the wrong,” she said.

But across the way, at the downtown Federal Building, a line of LAPD officers stood between May Day marchers and a group of 100 or so Trump supporters who were there to defend the president’s actions. One of their signs said it all: “Love our America and constitution or leave!”

“I’m with them,” a small boy of about 12 years old told police, pointing at the pro-Trump contingent from which he’d somehow been separated. His words, innocent as they may have been, were a poignant reminder of the gulf between the two sides.

“It shows that in their mind there is a separation, Peralta said after witnessing the exchange. “ There is a distinction for them, that ‘I’m not one of them.’”

Various organizations that marched separately in the past joined forces this year, uniting under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles.” (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Various organizations that marched separately in the past joined forces this year, uniting under the banner “May Day Coalition of Los Angeles.” (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Angered by the “hate Trump is encouraging,” Jay Ellis, 73, said he went to the march to turn his anger into something more positive.

“I’m here to support Latinos,” he told EGP, happy to see the crowds of people who poured into the streets of downtown L.A.

“It’s great to see Trump can’t stop everything,” he said.

Alvaro Reyes grew increasingly emotional as he looked out over the crowd gathered and listened to speakers rail against the wave of deportations that have shaken the immigrant community.

Reyes, a member of the United Service Workers West, said more people would have come out “but they were scared.”

“Everything Trump has done has been against Latinos and against the unions that are fighting for our rights as workers,” he pointed out.

Twenty-four-year-old Cynthia Ross works as a caregiver and is a member of Service Employees International Union 2015. Monday’s May Day protest was her first, and she said she was at first worried about her safety, but her fears subsided as she was surrounded by other Trump resisters, whether they were there to fight for Obamacare, immigrant rights, or against budget cuts.

“This has brought us together,” Ross said. “We must not let Trump break us apart.”

Sporting a ”Team Cedillo” t-shirt, Noel Salazar told EGP that our elected officials must also to stand up to the president.

“They must hold [Trump] accountable,” he said.

Dorian Adams-Wilson says she believes in the city, including it’s leaders, are in “full resist mode.”

“I want Trump to know we are going to resist everyday,” because “our lives are at stake.”

 

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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