We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

La Gran Marcha: The Sleeping Giant Awakes

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

On March 25, immigrants and their supporters shook the halls of Congress, and, just maybe, changed history.

La Gran Marcha: The ...
front_line.jpg, image/jpeg, 490x384

LOS ANGELES, March 26, 2006-- What happened yesterday? The Los Angeles Times estimates 500,000 people turned out; Univision estimates 2,000,000. You can read about it anywhere--a Gran Marcha against the Sensenbrenner immigration reform bill. The pictures are spectacular. Doves were released, a horn blared, a marching band played.

Those of us who couldn't get close to the speakers' platform joined semi-organized mini-marches of several thousand people, led by the SEIU, LA-ANSWER, and UNO. Waves of people standing in the streets broke into spontaneous chants of "¡Aqui estamos y no nos vamos!" And always there was, "¡Sí, Se Puede!" Outpacing the masses or going the other direction, against the tide, meant squeezing along building walls and non-stop "con permiso."

After the March, thousands of people stood in line after line along the overpasses along the 101, waving flags and celebrating. The resounding honks of car horns rising up from below us was near-deafening.

Except for a fracas between police and a few marchers at the end of the event, which resulted in no arrests, the police were nearly invisible and the protestors were resolute and calm. Firefighters were cheered wherever they appeared, and I've never seen so many U.S. flags at a protest, raised side-by-side with Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran flags, or small U.S. flags topping the flagpoles of foreign flags. Occasionally, a U.S. flag was held upside-down, the international signal for a ship in distress.

Two other protest anomalies were apparent: the sea of white shirts signaling "peace," and the families - grandparents, youth, toddlers, and the ubiquitous strollers.

I asked what the the shirts, the flags, and the families meant. Let me try to explain what I learned.

Reframing the National Debate

A March that was billed as "anti-Sensenbrenner" became, in the hands of the people, a march for legalization. In one sense, the underlying theme is not dissimilar to the argument for legalizing pot: acknowledge in the light of day what is tacitly condoned.

For ten thousand years and more, the people who live in what is now Mexico passed freely into what is now called the United States. Then the Europeans arrived, and the massacres began.

Sixteen decades ago, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo declared that ranchers and ranch hands, any Mexican or Native American in the new U.S. territory who wanted to keep their land and livelihood, were citizens of the United States (and would be grouped racially with European immigrants). To avoid land confiscation and with the gold rush of 1849, as many as 100,000 Mexicans opted for citizenship. Since then, the U.S. has manipulated the natural movement of peoples for its economic gain. In the 1920s, farm workers were brought in from Mexico, only to be deported in the 1930s. With 1942 Bracero program, the U.S. government and U.S. business actively encouraged the immigration of cheap labor from Mexico, welcoming workers even as they deported them during the late 1950s "Operation Wetback." The Bracero program ended in 1964. In 1984, undocumented people were offered amnesty and citizenship.

Twenty years later, NAFTA and CAFTA have propelled people off now unprofitable farms and into U.S.-owned foreign sweatshops at $5.50 per day. The only alternative is making the trip to the north and working for $50 per day. Sensenbrenner (HR 4437) and its companion bills under discussion in the Senate would end that option in a few weeks, with a vote and a penstroke.

Worse, under Sensenbrenner, border crossers would be deemed felons. Putting aside law enforcement for the moment, the vigilante minutemen are anticipating a field day, when they can initiate a citizen's arrest against anyone they "know" to be here in violation of felony laws. Undoubtedly, the minutemen watched the Gran Marcha on their TVs while they cleaned their guns and counted their ammunition.

The marchers wore white shirts to shout "no free-for-alls against immigrants," no white-instigated race war. In a word, the shirts were a call for peace, for a stable, legal working relationship with the United States. "No guerra, no racismo, no deportación," the marchers chanted.

The white T-shirts, crew shirts, blouses, and dress shirts with embroidered cuffs called for a truce based on legalization for people here and for a guest worker program; for legal recognition of what is and has been, in opposition to Sensenbrenner's and the minutemen's paramilitary effort to reshape history. Today, Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans, other immigrant communities, and their children turned the debate into a question of how best to incorporate undocumented but often welcomed immigrants into U.S. society. It's a question that has waited decades for an answer.

Single Citizenship, Dual Flags

Especially in southern Mexico and Central America, emigrants may be leaving homes without electricity or indoor plumbing, or with dirt floors, for the relative luxury of life as a janitor, plumber's helper, or farmworker. Whole families save to send their most likely breadwinner away to the United States. Dropped off on the other side of the border, the new arrival hooks up with a friend or relative and enters the largely underground economy. If the expense of living here doesn't overwhelm him, he sends a few dollars home to help their wife and children, or maybe a younger brother, sister, or cousin, to cross.

The international myth of the American dream, for most undocumented foreign nationals who come here, means economic survival and cultural integrity, and little more. "Trabajar por un sueno no es crimen," read one sign.

In communities of undocumented people there is hope in the microeconomic opportunities here, even though, in the macroeconomic picture, the U.S. sucks their native countries dry and does the same to the migrants themselves once they cross to "El Otro Lado." Another protestor held up a sign, "If trying to survive is a crime, we're all criminals."

On the steps of city hall, the destination of the marchers, a banner fluttered: "Please Include Us in Your Dreams," it read.

Politically correct or not, this intimate plea is what it meant that the migrants carried so many US flags. It was a plea for inclusion and legalization, and against scapegoating, round ups, mass detention and mass deportation.

"Families United Should Never Be Divided"

Immigrants have spent their family's "fortune" on the hope of a better life for their children, and for the chance to improve their family's' lives back home. Obligations to aging parents and young offspring require that sons, daughters, and young parents cross the border, even if it might mean death. It is many young people's dream to come to the U.S., but the dream of Mesoamerican youth is unlike the dreams of U.S. youth to go off to college or adventure in the city. If a Guatemalan or Salvadoran or Honduran young person succeeds in the U.S., they are family heroes. The same spirit of family obligation is what propelled young Chicanos to abandon school on Friday in defense of their parents and grandparents.

The Gran Marcha was billed as a "family event." Strollers were everywhere. Three generations gripped each others' hands as they wended their way through the crowds. The shout that a child was lost brought the immense human wave to a halt and cheers when the child was found. A path opened up from mother to child. In Mexico, Central American, and South American communities, a family event means more than "quality time" with the kids or an "educational" outing.

Perhaps the most devastating impact of Sensenbrenner for its victims would be families ripped apart.

In cultures that survive because of family love, support, and obligations, Sensenbrenner and all the proposals before the Senate threatens not only immigrants' livelihood, but their safety net and the cultural hub of their lives. Under "immigration reform," families would be destroyed. Breadwinners, mothers and fathers, would spend months in prison before deportation.

Remaining family members would be abandoned in the U.S., struggling on one minimum-wage income or less. Children would be left without parents, turned over to the notorious Department of Human Services to find more distant family members or foster parents while their natural parents served out jail sentences and then tried to reunite with their children from across the border. Or, as happened in previous mass deportations, the children--mostly U.S. citizens--would be deported with their families.

The peace the migrants called for is the peace of families intact, with love and with squabbles, in a country that tacitly invited them, and peace with legal standing. It is the small peace of going to school, of work and taxes, of family meals with grandparents, children, and grandchildren uninterrupted by police banging at the door.

The Sleeping Giant

A year's work for hundreds of Los Angeles activists against the minutemen paid off yesterday. They held the door open from Baldwin Park and Garden Grove to Laguna Beach, Lake Forest, and Glendale, and the community had time to recognize the threat and to organize. Amidst the flags and the strollers were signs that read, "The 50 States Need 'Slaves' To Work" and signs that compared Sensenbrenner to Hitler, familiar themes to pro-migrant activists. And at the end of it all, the danzantes danced.

As one sign told Sensenbrenner, the Congress, and the minutemen, "You bug so much you woke up the Sleeping Giant."

On the Streets

Today, I overheard the manager of my local Sav-On talking with a stock clerk. The white guy in the dress shirt said, "Did you see the March yesterday? The news said 500,000 people were out." The African-American woman he spoke to said, "Yeah, it was something, wasn't it?" The manager added, "I didn't know there were so many of them. What do those people expect?" and continued, "I mean, I know they deserve better and all, but what happens if they pass that law? Is there going to be a riot?" His trepidation was unmistakable before he drifted away.

After a moment, I turned to her as she restocked items on the shelf and mentioned that I was at the March, and that the Spanish media reported one and a half to two million participants. She said, "I'm not surprised. The way those people have been brought in here, and now they get treated like this. And they really are doing the jobs nobody wants." She continued straightening items on the shelf as she went on, "My daughter, she's a manager. That's what we want for our children. We don't want those kind of jobs." I suggested that the Jewish persecution began much like this, and she agreed: "Yeah, that's right. I don't blame them for standing up. I wouldn't blame them if they took the streets. We did."

Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


finding a seat

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

finding a seat...
finding_a_seat.jpg, image/jpeg, 296x545

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


a simple sign

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

a simple sign...
doves_overhead.jpg, image/jpeg, 343x481

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


a sea of white

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

a sea of white...
sea_of_white_shirts7.jpg, image/jpeg, 480x542

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


the future

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

the future...
el_salvador.jpg, image/jpeg, 358x456

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


the first soldier

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

the first soldier...
el_primero_soldado.jpg, image/jpeg, 414x336

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


respect

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

respect...
we_respect_this_country.jpg, image/jpeg, 422x360

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


this is made by immigrants

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

this is made by immi...
the_is_made_by_immigrants.jpg, image/jpeg, 360x480

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Irish immigrant, LA style

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

Irish immigrant, LA ...
irish.jpg, image/jpeg, 204x386

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


legalization

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

legalization...
resident_alien.jpg, image/jpeg, 428x438

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


uncle sam and the native

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

uncle sam and the na...
uncle_sam.jpg, image/jpeg, 360x480

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


made in the usa

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

made in the usa...
usa_is_made_by_immigrants.jpg, image/jpeg, 326x502

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


not one death more

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

not one death more...
ni_una_muerte_mas.jpg, image/jpeg, 325x488

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


along the 101

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 1:08 AM
leslie@radiojustice.net

along the 101...
along_the_101.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x470

error
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 15 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Nice pics Leslie Marconi Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 12:56 PM
GREAT ARTICLE San Remo Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 7:34 PM
reply Jammer CC Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 10:06 PM
correction Jammer CC Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 10:08 PM
We need more "Leslies" Mexica Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2006 at 11:00 PM
Not Just an Issue for Immigrants Iamhe Asyouarehe Friday, Mar. 31, 2006 at 12:46 AM
Remember Ellis Island EHernandez Tuesday, Apr. 04, 2006 at 7:35 PM
Inmigrant Singing: STOP BUSH! INMIGRANT RIGHTS! Albert Acosta Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 12:50 PM
Immigration clampdown by US ruling class Paul Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2006 at 7:34 AM

Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

911 : establishment terror J22 11:18PM

Actor Patrick Kilpatrick Discusses and Signs his New Book Dying for Living J22 10:42PM

The Attack of Corporations and the Rich on the Rest of Society J22 2:36PM

bataclown J22 12:32PM

bataclone J21 8:08PM

VAN ATTACK HOAX J21 7:35PM

Mobile Royale Hack Online Generator - Get Unlimited Crystals J21 3:03PM

Unification, séparation et fragmentation J21 2:48PM

Testing Upload J21 7:10AM

FARCELONA.2 J20 7:18PM

FAKE NEWS POR SOROS J20 6:11PM

Chemtrails and Prince J20 2:43PM

Wages For Housework J20 2:41PM

Tutelle comportementaliste J20 9:18AM

A Mistake: Jesse Jackson-Toyota deal-in Lexington -Ky is .8 billion over 10 years 2018 J20 1:17AM

If Trump Declares a AantionalEmergency, He'll Be Breaking the Law J20 12:47AM

Jesse Jackson's Sneak Attck on Toyota Lexington Ky and it's workers 2018 J19 9:12PM

Video: Chris Herdges in Eugene, 1 hr 24 min J19 5:37PM

FAKE NEWS J19 2:31PM

MACROTHSCHILD.2 J19 11:03AM

Judge Delays Ruling on Puerto Rico Debt Deal White House Opposes Island's Food Assistance J18 6:04PM

BATACLOWNS J18 9:28AM

FALSAS VICTIMAS J18 9:22AM

Paraphysique de proxémie guerrière J18 7:59AM

MACROTHSCHILD J17 9:38PM

FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM

DEAD MAN LIVING J17 10:46AM

DIARY OF A CON MAN J16 10:40PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy