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by Kevin Akin
Sunday, May. 03, 2009 at 12:21 PM
Kevin Akin, State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party, was present at the Riverside May Day rally. Here is what he had to say:
Between 350 and 450 people marched about 1.5 miles from the Cesar Chavez Community Center on the Eastside to City Hall in downtown Riverside this afternoon. The line of march was pretty impressive, with most people marching two abreast for block after block. A rally was held at City Hall, though I am afraid that the sound system was inadequate, and most people could not hear the speakers clearly. Folks were cheerful and in a celebrative mood. There were six people, I think, who handed out some Peace and Freedom Party material, including the Partisan special election issue, and some good small bilingual leaflets from the San Bernardino County Central Committee. I was also busy with the Save Our Chinatown Committee, a grassroots Riverside organization that is about half Chinese-American and half others, and I alternated between handing out SOCC material and handing out PFP material. The San Bernardino folks just handed out PFP material. I think that around 150 people took some PFP material (if the Partisan had also been in Spanish everyone would have taken it). Delegations from several unions participated, and they included most of the few African-Americans who were there. There were also some Asian-American union members, and a good number (around 25) of Asian-American students. This was by far the highest ever Asian-American participation in a May Day event in the inland area, about 10% of the crowd.
From comments I heard, I gather that attendance was at least 20% lower than it would have been without the "swine flu."
There was a good short explanation from a union activist (LIUNA) about the origin and importance of International Workers' Day, in Spanish and English, near the beginning of the initial rally at the Chavez Center. Songs, a few speeches in Spanish with some translation, and off we went. Chants were not particularly imaginative, but fairly loud. Speakers concentrated on immigration matters, as well as I could hear. The breadth of sponsorship was impressive this year, and our Party's San Bernardino County Central Committee was listed on leaflets and e-mail announcements as an official sponsor. Politicians were almost entirely absent, except for Jose Medina of the Riverside Community College board, who comes to all this sort of thing. There were lots of friendly honks (and a few frustrated honks as we blocked traffic), and plenty of cheers and shouts from people in cars and stores along the route.
No counter-demonstrators appeared. Police basically kept away. The line was kept in good order by folks with armbands who were mostly from a couple of unions.
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