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Masses of Immigrants Demand Amnesty

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

A big crowd of determined, joyful people marched down Broadway to peacefully demand amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and to public show their committment to justice for immigrants.

Masses of Immigrants...
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The turnout for the April 7th legalization-for-immigrants march was inspiring and awesome: The river of people on Broadway flowed on and on. There were disciplined contingents with thousands and thousands of marchers headed by groups like Hermandad Mexicana. The crowd overflowed onto the sidewalk and was so large at Olympic and Broadway that hundreds walking south on Broadway to join the march could not get through the mass of people congregated at the “beginning” of the march and ended up walking half a block ahead of the main march.

The “giant” had re-awakened and put to route any thought that its energy was spent. While smaller than last spring’s mega-marches, it was still far larger than any protest marches seen in L.A. since then: At least 40-50 thousand people marched down Broadway. Yet, local media seemed determined to underplay and undercount the march. TV stations estimated the crowd at anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000, or quoted the police “estimate” of “7-8 thousand”.

There were very few media reporting along the march. Given the modest turn-out at the last two immigration marches downtown, it must have seemed to news directors that this one would be more of the same. I know I did. As I walked south on Broadway I figured I would reach the march and then easily find some people I was supposed to meet. No way! At about Fourth and Broadway I came upon the march, or should I say, the march came upon me and overwhelmed me in a giant festival of love and unity. There is something astonishing and magical about taking to the streets and peacefully marching by the tens of thousands to demand one’s human right to live “legally” and be recognized as a productive, valued member of society. The marchers were saying and demonstrating that no more will the “mexicanos”, “salvadoreños”, “guatemaltecos”, and others in the crowd meekly acquiesce to living in the shadows, or gratefully accept punitive “guest worker” or similar programs being proposed.

The joyful, determined people striding down Broadway were a revelation: This is how street protests are supposed to be done! The crowd was disciplined, purposeful, and enthusiastically roaring “¡Sí se puede!” or “¡Arriba abajo, la migra al carajo!”, or the ever popular call and response with the questioner using a megaphone and the crowd thunderously responding: “¿Qué queremos? “¡Legalización! ¿Cuándo la queremos? ¡Ahora!” . Hundreds and hundreds of marchers carried signs demanding: “Amnistia”. Dozens carried signs criticizing local radio dj “Piolin” for not supporting the march. Some groups had dramatic, brightly colored banners that stretched across Broadway: “Legalización. ¡Ya!” or “¡Alto a las Redadas!” There was a 30 by 40 ft. quilt made up of flags from dozens of countries. A Brazilian man and others carried a 15 by 25 foot banner reading: “The sun shines on all people.”

Most popular by far was the red, white, and blue USA flag: flags on sticks, huge flags held by five people, flags worn as capes, flags on shirts, flag hats, and flags for sale from vendors pulling carts festooned with flags. The flags disarm critics who complain that immigrants somehow do not have the same ideals and values as “Americans” and refuse to fully participate in U.S. institutions.

The masses of immigrants marching April 7 may be the most “American” of all. One could sometimes hear the chant of “USA! USA!” coming from the marchers, but it was not the xenophobic cry of the Minutemen, it was the heartfelt sentiment of those who demand that the U.S. live up to those self-evident, inalienable rights of all people which are enshrined in its Declaration of Independence: “ the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Marchers on Broadway say "Legalización. ¡Ya!

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

Marchers on Broadway...
immigration_002.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

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"The Mexica contingent provides a lesson in history.

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

"The Mexica con...
dsc00435.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

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The red, white, and blue colors were everywhere.

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

The  red, white, and...
immigration_003.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

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This flag should stand for freedom.

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

This flag should sta...
dsc00433.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

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This is what democracy looks like.

by Cliff Olin Monday, Apr. 09, 2007 at 9:52 PM

This is what democra...
immigration_001.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

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