There were close to 20,000 people marching today in Oakland. The march started at 100 Avenue, which is in deep east Oakland (at the edge with Fremont) and made its way down East 14th (now called International Boulevard) to the Federal Building. Then because there wasn't enough room for all the marchers, the marchers turned where they were and moved to Oakland's City Hall Plaza a block back, where you couldn't hear the speakers who took over the march. Overwhelming Latino, the march included families, youth, babies in strollers, toddlers on shoulders, mothers, daughters, sons, students, young and older workers, many carrying U.S. flags but also Virgen de Guadalupe banners, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and other flags from Latin American, sprinkling of Che, Zapata and Jesus posters and flags, this was quite big and exciting. Imagine all the workers who took the day off, the risks they took to stand up for their rights.
Much more is possible with a bit of heart and the courage and vision to take more risks from our part.
Aqui estamos y no nos vamos
Y si nos echan, regresamos!
This was a new chant that was being shouted loud. "We here and we're not leaving and if we're deported we will return."
All were chanting "Si se puede." "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido."
All were demanding legalization. Many signs declared "We demand justice, liberty & equality." No where in sight did anybody say "guest workers" or three-tiers or border militarization, etc.
500,000 in Dallas, 100,000 in San Diego, 20,000 in Sacramento, maybe 5,000-10,000 in Salem OR; as many in Philadelphia. More in Miami, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Fresno, Portland, Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Durango, Santa Fe, Chicago, San Jose and many other places that are not "media markets" -- Yakima Valley, the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, places in North Carolina and other parts in the South.
What's the significance of these mobilizations? First, it's the product of ten years or so of demanding legalization with rights. The ice has been broken since 9/11 put the dampers on this powerful grassroots driven mobilization calling for legalization. At that time, the grassroots movement had beaten back the attempt by the INS to implement its draconian deportation strategy and operations. When INS raids were checkmated, the grassroots movement turned around and started proposing solutions, demanding legalization and border demilitarization, end to employer sanctions, family unity, etc.
Then 9/11 re-opened the door to the defeated strategy of raids, deportations border walls and other enforcement strategies, which they carried out with a vengance first against Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in the weeks following 9/11 and launched "Operation Tarmac," to after the "usual suspects." The Bush regime and Coress used it as the pretext to further militarize the U.S.-Mexico border and continue on this beaten path that kills migrants and dilutes and caricaturizes our rights.
The last time there was a big march like this in Oakland was back in March 2001, just two months after the AFL-CIO rescinded its support for Employer Sanctions -- called the "employment verification system" under the current Sensenbrenner/Specter/Frist proposals (it only took them 14 years! Also pre-dates the current Change-to-Win or is it Win-to-Change unions that split from the AFL and support guest worker programs, saying that this is the way to play politics! and the remaining AFL opposing this scam now in Congress -- the part of the labor movement that gets it right).
The energy is there to do more outreach and organize organizing forums and spaces for people to deepen their knowledge about what's at stake and how we can movement forward as we build the organizational scaffolding of this spontaneous outburst of energy, which will be difficult if not impossible to beat back and is thoroughly grounded in communities.
peace without borders,
See news story in Oakland Tribune, click here