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LA May Day: Thousands of militant marchers demand ‘Legalization for all now!’

By staff

Carlos Montes (center) at LA May Day protest.

Los Angeles, CA – The Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC) led a militant political march and rally in the heart of Los Angeles, May 1, with thousands of garment workers, students and a contingent from Occupy LA. The event was a political protest against the U.S. ICE/police deportations. The clear demand was for legalization for all. The majority of marchers were Latino wearing red shirts and carrying flags from Central America, Latin America, Mexico and the red flag of Aztlan. Many of the speakers expressed an anti-war and pro-worker view in support for people of the world who fight against the U.S. empire. Other May 1 events in L.A. were more like celebrations with music concerts – many wearing white with U.S. flags.

The SCIC kickoff rally started with FE Evaone. The Xicana/Indigene activist did her hip hop flowetry with her song “In-Dependence”. Next up was veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes, who denounced U.S. interventions and war as the cause of poverty, misery and mass migration. He also linked the fight for legalization to the struggle for equality for Latinos and self-determination for Chicanos/Mexicans in the southwest of the U.S.

The rally emcee Ron Gochez then introduced Werner Marroquin of the FMLN who call for workers of the world to unite against injustice. Next up the teachers Juan Ramirez and Betty Forester with United Teachers LA expressed their unity and solidarity with the struggle for immigrant rights. The United Teachers LA has a long history of uniting with the struggle of immigrants. Felipe Garcia of Roofers Local 36 talked about the hardships the undocumented workers face, from bad working conditions to exploitation by the big corporations.

The march entered the heart of the garment district and received the enthusiastic support of thousands of undocumented workers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico as they left work. During the march, Mecha members, high school students from South L.A., spoke about undocumented students’ hardships in school trying to survive. Also CSULA Mecha representative Maria Xochicale spoke of the fight to expand Chicano Studies and the importance of students supporting the fight end deportations. More music and hip hop with el Comandante kept the energy high.

The closing rally included Daniel Montes of Union del Barrio who spoke of the need to keep fighting for immigration reform with justice. Father Solalinde from Oaxaca Mexico spoke of his work in fighting against the abuse and exploitation of migrants for Central America as they cross in to Mexico. These migrants face extortion, kidnapping and robbery by local police, the narco cartels and gangs. The Los Angeles Garment Workers Center member Jose Lopez exposed working conditions in L.A. and expressed solidarity to the garment workers of Bangladesh who died in a building collapse.

Lisa Median with the Alvarado Street Vendors denounced the police harassment of tickets and arrests for undocumented families who are just trying to survive. She called on the LAPD to stop harassing the street vendors. The International Action Center speaker called for international solidarity. The Occupy LA/Occupy Foreclosures Carlos Marroquin and Julie Levine talked about the victories in stopping evictions and home sit-ins in poor neighborhoods and denounced the big banks that make super profits from the misery of working people losing their homes. The Bayan International speaker talked about the struggle in the Philippines against the violations of human rights and the theft of land and mineral resources by the rich corporations with support from the U.S. The Filipino hip hop group Shining Sons did some great songs about the struggle in their homeland. Many other groups joined the march, including the Bus Riders Union, Workers World Party and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Closing the main rally was a short teatro skit exposing the killing of Mexican news reporters. A speaker from Resistencia Mexicana de LA denounced the human rights violations in Mexico by the army and criminal groups.

The Southern California Immigration Coalition calls on all to continue the fight for legalization for all and for an immigration reform law that does not separate families and that stops the mass detentions and deportations.

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