By Dennis J. Freeman
LOS ANGELES — Rallying around the president’s anti-immigration agenda, worker’s rights, more affordable housing and participation in the mid-term elections, thousands of individuals took to the streets in downtown Los Angeles to demand their voices be heard May 1.
The platform was provided by the Los Angeles May Day Coalition, which facilitated the rally and march that took place from Pershing Square to the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building.
“We are determined to safeguard our communities from hatred and acts of xenophobia,” said Martha Arévalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center. “Together, we can and will reach justice for our immigrant communities and every community that has been unfairly targeted by this administration.
“More than 400,000 Temporary Protected Status immigrants alone will be stripped of their legal working permits and other humanitarian protections without reason. We must continue to band together in the fight of our generation. We are determined to protect our communities and to march on May Day for justice.”
The rally and march was clearly aimed at President Donald Trump and his administration, which has threatened to impose stiff penalties on undocumented immigrants.
Interestingly enough, street vendors lined up on both sides of Pershing Square, where the rally began, and went about their business of selling food to customers walking by. The Los Angeles City Council recently decriminalized the self-employed individuals by voting to allow them to work with permits.
Still, the workers, some undocumented immigrants, face marginalization. There’s more work to be done, said Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
“When the rights of workers, immigrants, and communities mobilizing to vote are threatened, the rights of all of us are threatened,” Hicks said. “Today, we’re marching for good, union jobs that our communities need and fighting back against the administration’s racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant agenda.”
There were plenty of verbal critiques of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, accusing the White House of having a strategic plan to separate immigrant parents from their children. Those who hail from Mexico tend to be the most vulnerable to deportation and some among the Los Angeles May Day Coalition believe that kind of agenda is unfair.
“The presidential administration creates policies of hatred, racism and cruelty,” said Taqwa Bowie, of Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education.
“Community members are immigrants, black and brown people, people of varying backgrounds and nationalities, Muslim brothers and sisters. Each of them are an important part of the great economy of this country. The president should be celebrating them for their contributions.
“We are not giving up in our fight to make sure that we have the same access to quality education, affordable housing for poor people and better air quality. We will change the legal system to stop the criminalization of innocent people and stop police brutality,” Bowie added.
The Los Angeles May Day Coalition, which is made up of more than 50 organizations, held its rally under the banner of “Together We Fight Back.” Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Executive Director Angelica Salas said it’s time for these communities to do just that under one umbrella.
“These are the best of times to take a stand against the worst of times,” Salas said. “We are one nation, one city, one community with diverse ideals, values and aspirations. On May Day we join together in the streets to mark a point in time when we tell this administration ‘enough is enough.’ Our best days are ahead of us if we stay united and committed to change.”