May Day Redux: Part 2!
The pictures and stories just keep rolling in from last Friday. Despite reports that this May Day fell short of expectations, I think that in the face of all of the swine flu hysteria and the overall rainy weather, there was a great turnout. Not to mention, those who did turn out did so in STYLE!
Support from the Labor Community
One of the best signs of the May Day events was the widespread representation from the labor community. Unions, like SEIU and Workers United showed up in solidarity for worker and immigrant rights. This support is especially important, in light of last month's announcement by the two largest unions in the country, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, that they will support a comprehensive immigration reform effort this year.
Workers United took to the streets across the country, fighting for equal rights for all. From the Workers United site:
Margarito Diaz, (pictured) helped lead the mobilization and says:
"As a union, we are a family, a family that fights for everyone to be treated fairly. The May Day March to me was the symbol of our struggle as family, and the fighting spirit within ourselves to say we've had enough. No human being should be treated as less than a human being, and our future -- our kids -- should not have to suffer by us getting rid of their parents.
I was humbled and fortunate to march with my fellow co-workers, many of whom -- after working the night shift -- marched for more than three miles, demanding fair labor laws for everyone, and for all brothers and sisters who are migrants to be treated with dignity and respect."
One of the reasons the momentum for reform is different (stronger) this year than in previous years, is the support of allies like the labor and faith communities that understand the connections between issues like worker justice, human rights and immigration.
In Seattle, 1,000 people marched through the streets, calling for immigration reform and worker justice. The Seattle Times covered the march, which drew slightly less numbers than people had hoped (again, in the face of swine-flu-mania, I think that getting 1,00o folks out on the streets is quite a feat).
Demonstrators carried signs reading "Bailout workers, not Banks," and "We Humbly Ask for Immigration Reform.
"Until there's change, this is something we have to keep doing," said Pablo, a 21-year-old kitchen worker who lugged a large wooden cross on his back. He declined to give his surname. The cross, Pablo said, signified that "we are immigrants and we have a heavy cross to carry.
I live-blogged a bit of the Chicago march last Friday, but the news stories keep rolling in! There was a lot of talk about the lower numbers in Chi-town this year, and most have blamed these (again) on the swine flu hysterics that swept the country last week. For a more in-depth analysis on this, check out this Huffington Post piece.
An estimated 3,000 people gathered at Union Park and marched to Federal Plaza, two miles away, in the rain. There has been a lot of coverage of the march. You can check out some online articles here, here and here. From the Bellevill-News Democrat online interviewed an organizer from FIRM's partner organization, Chicago KRCC:
Young Sun Song, a community organizer with Chicago's Korean American Resource and Cultural Center , said she has been working since 1995 to promote immigration reform.
"It's not a Latino issue," she said. "We have a shared issue and a shared responsibility to come out to support immigration reform."
Song is a citizen but has a sister who entered the U.S. as the spouse of a student but failed to renew her visa. Song said her sister, who owns a dry cleaning business, has two sons who were born in the U.S.
"She is no threat to national security, she's patriotic, a hard worker and pays taxes," Song said. "We need a rational discussion of immigration reform."
Los Angeles, CA
Also, I found this great video of the Los Angeles march - love the music. Check it out below: [youtube = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwErTRoiyeA]