May Day Movement in Modesto
By Xiuhcoatl of Aztlan Rising
May 3, 2007
We are NOT Immigrants was the message at this year’s May Day Movement in Modesto, California. Over 3,000 protestors took to Modesto streets to demand a legalization bill and equal treatment for the millions living in the United States without papers.
The turnout was nowhere near the 10,000 to 12,000 that marched in 2006, when the threat of Sensenbrenner’s House Resolution 4437 brought out record numbers across the nation. But the message was more powerful and resolute.
Dia De Los Ninos
Sunday, April 29, 2007
May Day 2007 events began with Dia de Los Ninos, held on the eve of the Mexican holiday. The rally took place at Gil’s Plaza on Crows Landing Road in South Modesto, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood. The Modesto Brown Berets & Aztlan Rising hosted this day of awareness, which was focused on the children and parents that have been torn apart because of unfair immigration practices by the US government, and the effects that these practices have on the family.
"Take a father out of the home, and the family falls apart. Take a mother out of the home, and the family falls apart," said Destiny Alvarez of the Modesto Brown Berets.
“How can we classify ourselves as a civil society when we can go in a home and separate a mother from her child? Are we in violation of our own constitutional laws?” asked Frank Johnson, Vice-President of the NAACP.
John X Mataka, a Chicano member of the Nation of Islam, spoke on the history of this land and its people. He said, “Who is the real illegal alien? For over 500 years we have been a conquered people. We carry the names of our Spanish conquerors: Martinez, Gonzalez, Vazquez, Espinoza, etc. These are not our names, but the names of the people who robbed, raped and murdered our people. Now, after they have stolen our land, our language and our history, they call us illegal aliens. This is our land and we will not leave!”
Tommie Muhammad, who heads the Nation of Islam’s Modesto Study Group, informed the audience of how those in power exploit “immigrant” laborers. According to Muhammad, “Those who are pro-immigration, but also (those who are) anti-immigrant, want to be able to easily exploit the so-called ‘immigrant’ labor force, (those) with no basic democratic rights,” said Muhammad. “Let me remind you again, this land belonged to the indigenous people, the original people of the hemisphere. No one has a right to put borders or to divide for you what land, what property you can come on. This land was taken from you, stolen from you.”
Akili Shabazz of Fathers Who Care compared the current situation for undocumented people with slavery by stating, “Deportation is the same thing as what happened on the plantation, separating parents and children, by continually trying to break down the family structure. And that’s what they’re trying to do now; to leave the child without the guidance of their parents. Therefore the school and government (are) left to provide this guidance. As we know the government always guides our youth in what’s in the best interest of the government, not what’s in the best interest of the family.”
“After the broken treaties, after the lies, after the stealing, after the rape, after all of that, we then still tried to go by their laws, come here, work hard and then legalize, and 1 year ago they tried to criminalize our folks and any of us who would aid and abet an ‘illegal.’ Let folks know that what’s happening here isn’t cool. And everybody outside of this country sees it. But the majority of the folks here don’t. Caution of the fascism, careful, trucha, wake up, and stay active,” said Salvador Vera, executive director of C.O.P.A.L.
The Modesto Brown Berets distributed flyers with information on contacting members of Congress for fair immigration reform. You can download the flyer here.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
By 10:00 AM over 100 people filled the sidewalk at the corner of Hatch & Crows Landing Roads. The Modesto Brown Berets and Aztlan Rising, organizers of the rally, informed protestors that there was no march planned. Within seconds the people begin calling for a march. Within minutes they take to the streets.
The presence of the marchers was felt from the Southside to City Hall in Downtown Modesto. “No human being is illegal…Ya basta,” exclaimed Salvador Vera before entering the government building on 10th Street.
The group grew from hundreds to over 3,000 as others joined the march along the way, chanting phrases like “Si se puede,” “El pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido” and “Unete,” an invitation for spectators to join the crowd.
The call for unity was heard throughout the nation, as similar marches took place in Stockton, Sacramento, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities. Although they did not produce the same numbers as last year, their spirit was undying, and their message was unwavering:
This land is our land, and we are not going anywhere.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
~Xiuhcoatl of Aztlan Rising~