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Chicago: May Day march for Palestine prepares for protest at DNC

By Vince Olson

May Day march in Chicago.  | Fight Back! News/Rich Varnes

Chicago, IL – On May 3, the Coalition to March on the Democratic National Convention held a rally and march to celebrate International Workers Day. The 400 attendees heeded the call from the coalition to come stand with Palestine for May Day and vowed to show up again to protest against the Democratic National Convention (DNC) when the convention comes to Chicago August 19 through 22.

The coalition linked labor and immigrant rights movements in this event, as well. A special speaker at the rally was Artemio Arreola of Casa Michoacan and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Arreola was among the main leaders of the 300,000-person march of immigrants on March 10, 2006, and then 500,000 person march on May 1 that year. That nationwide May Day mobilization brought the international working class holiday back to the U.S., after having been suppressed by the anti-communist witch hunts of McCarthyism 50 years earlier.

Arreola referred to the city of Chicago denying permits to the coalition for their planned marches. “We want to get permits for the right to assemble, the right to march, to have our voices here by the DNC. But if we don’t get permits, we’re still going to march anyway!”

In the spirit of International Workers Day, a number of labor speakers – including Teddy Hoffman from Starbucks Workers United; Scott Holdieson from UAW 551 and the national secretary of Unite All Workers for Democracy; and Maria Moreno, Chicago Teachers Union financial secretary – pledged the support of workers here for the workers in Gaza suffering and dying at the hands of the Israeli military, with weapons provided by the U.S.

Glo Choi, a Korean immigrant, spoke for the HANA Center. Other speakers represented Students for Justice in Palestine at UIC; Faculty for Justice in Palestine, and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, highlighting the connections between the struggles for immigrant rights, worker’s rights, the Black liberation movement and the Palestinian struggle for national liberation. Many spoke about the horrors of the ongoing genocide in Gaza being carried out by U.S. weapons, the political cover the U.S. gives the war criminals in Tel Aviv, and the need to continue fighting to end the genocide and the occupation of all of Palestine.

After the rally, the coalition marched to the United Center, where the DNC will be held. Ironically, marching in the street was agreed to by police officers who had testified in a municipal hearing against allowing the coalition to march in August.

As the march moved past the United Center, the energy grew as the chants, “If we don't get no justice, they don't get no peace” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” echoed off the walls of the arena, a sign of things to come.

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