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Los Angeles: 9th annual May Day held in Chicano neighborhood of Boyle Heights

By Reuben Navarrete

Crowd gathers holding the Mexican flag and signs with slogans like "Legalization for all".

Los Angeles, CA – On May 1, over 100 people gathered at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights to commemorate May Day, the International Workers Day. Across the world workers celebrate this day to highlight the contributions of the working class, regardless of their immigration status. It originated in Chicago, where in 1886, striking workers were attacked by police while fighting for the eight-hour workday, the right to unionize and safer working conditions. Eight of the organizers were convicted and four of them publicly executed by hanging.

In 2006, May Day was revitalized when an extremely repressive law proposition was introduced by Senator Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Massive demonstrations took place on May Day in 2006, including in Los Angeles, where more than a million took to the streets.

The year’s event started at 4:30 p.m. and was kicked off with a fiery speech from Alex Orellana, a UPS worker and Teamster shop steward from Local 396, who stated, “Today we celebrate 136 years of working class resistance against capitalist greed.” Later in his speech he spoke about the significance of immigrant workers, saying, “The U.S. economy is absolutely dependent on immigrant labor.”

Later during the event, Jordan Peña from Centro Community Service Organization (CSO) spoke about the importance of immigrant rights and legalization for all saying, “It is our responsibility to stand up and fight back. No human is illegal on stolen land!”

Dr. Melina Abdullah, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter recognized the shared struggles of African Americans and Chicanos. She spoke about the need to take control over the many forms of abuse we experience from law enforcement and the tactics they employ to stifle our voices and progress. “Cops are not workers; they are tools of white supremist capitalists. We have our own solutions for community safety,” said Dr. Abdullah.

Another major focus of this year’s event was the importance of standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine. The need to end the genocide taking place is ever more important as Israel continues to murder innocent civilians every day. Attendees at the event chanted, “Viva, viva, Palestina!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”.

Karina López from Centro CSO spoke about the student protests happening nationwide saying, “We encourage those of you who are able to attend, join the student protesters on their campus encampments. Our struggles are directly tied to the people of Palestine.”

Avery Raimondo, who spoke for Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), said, “LA sheriffs exercise one of the most oppressive forms of oppression by killing Chicanos, Latinos and African Americans. And when the families speak up, they’re harassed. Then if they go to trial, the system clears the killers. All of these examples led me to understand that the system is so corrupt, there is no reforming it. The only way to move forward is to clear it out completely. All of our enemies, including those in Palestine, are the same. Capitalism. This is why I became a member of FRSO.”

This is the ninth consecutive year a May Day celebration has taken place in Boyle Heights, with record attendance this year. It was organized and led by Centro CSO and included speakers from various community activist groups throughout Los Angeles. Other endorsers and speakers included the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Soledad Enrichment Action (SEA), LA Catholic Worker, Partido MORENA, the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, and Re/Arte Centro Literario + Independent Print Shop.

If you would like to participate in the planning for next year’s CSO May Day in Boyle Heights, send them a message at 323-484-8630, [email protected] or on their various social media platforms under Centro CSO.

#LosAngelesCA #BlackLivesMatter #MayDay #LegalizationforAll #FreePalestine