Monday, May 1, 2006
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS MARCH FOR MIGRANTS RIGHTS
Downtown Los Angeles was completely closed down as marchers demand for legalization
By Jose M. Lara firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds of thousands gathered in the streets of Los Angeles this past weekend to demand the full legalization of undocumented migrants. This was part of a nation wide campaign against the racist Sensenbrenner bill, HR4437, that would criminalize the undocumented and anyone that would provide services to them. This includes basic health and educational services to children.
The nation wide campaign included a boycott that many called “A day without an immigrant.” Some groups who participated in the march disagreed with the use of the word “immigrant.”
Ron Gochez of a grassroots Mexican organization, Union de Barrio stated, “How can we be immigrants when this land was stolen from us?” He then continued to lead a chant that carried that message, “Esta es mi tierra, Esta es mi lucha (this is my land, this is my struggle).”
While many groups disputed the use of the word immigrant, the message was the same, working class Raza would not be reporting to work on May 1st.
Many of those who participated in the march were students who also boycotted school that day. Many of the student marchers were there as part of the organized effort of the Coordinadora Estudiantil de la Raza (CER, Raza student coalition). This student group represented over 30 different high schools, community colleges, and university students.
The CER all wore brown shirts that not only included demands for full legalization, but also for Raza Studies in high schools, an end to militarization of the border and schools, and no repression of students and workers for participating in political protest.
As one of the more organized and disciplined portion of the march, the CER led students and workers in chants that included, “Raza SI, Migra NO (people yes, INS no), legalizacion total (complete legalization) and Zapata vive, la lucha sigue (Zapata lives, the struggle continues).”
These students waved high and proud their Mexican and Salvadorian flags, while student designed murals and banners led the way for these marchers. One mural in particular showed the holding of hands across the American continents with the last hand breaking off chains in the United States. This banner best symbolizes the struggle of these students as they are united is solidarity with people throughout Latin America.
Downtown Los Angeles was completely shut down for the day as mothers and fathers pushed strollers along the march. The majority of the protesters were peaceful and behaved nonviolently during the entire 3 mile stretch of the march.
For some it was their first time marching and they were amazed at the amount of people present. Janet Montoya, a first time marcher, enthusiastically stated, “Wow! I did not think this many people would show up” and “It was wonderful to see whole families marching together peacefully.”
The noon time march that began on the corner of Olympic and Broadway and ended at LA city hall ended without any incidents. This was not the end road for these marchers as many of them then pressed on to the following march that began at 3:00 pm in Macarthur Park.