Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Protests Spread to 100s of US Cities

Monday April 10th was a National Day of Action for immigration rights. Hundreds of thousands of people across the entire United States took action to support basic human rights for the over 11 million immigrant workers in this country. Daniela Gerson of the New York Sun reports that tens of thousands converged on city hall on the afternoon of April 10th:
"I am fighting for my dad so he can get his papers," Brian Chicaiza, a skinny sixth-grader with greased hair, said after leaving his Queens elementary school early yesterday to join the ribbon of protesters stretching up Broadway from City Hall to SoHo at one of the largest mobilizations for immigrant rights in city history.

The New York rally - like scores of coordinated marches across the country from small farming communities to the U.S. Capitol - gave a chance for America's usually invisible workforce to voice its anger. At the demonstration, those who usually labor behind the scenes as delivery boys and demolition men, nannies and cleaning ladies, unified to demand that America not only accept their labor but afford them legal rights.

There were also thousands of children at the march, many of whom are American citizens with illegal immigrant parents, one of the many complex legal situations in a nation with 12 million illegal immigrants.

The New York turnout, estimated to be tens of thousands, did not rival those in Chicago and Los Angeles last month or one Dallas yesterday, each of which drew hundreds of thousands - but for many there it was a moving first venture into American civic involvement. Starting early in the afternoon and extending into the evening, protesters blocked traffic along Broadway and hoisted signs saying "Amnesty" and "We March Today, We Vote Tomorrow." They waved and danced with flags from more than a dozen nations alongside the American flag and shouted "Si se puede," or "Yes, we can."

The march was organized by a broad coalition of immigrant organizations, church groups, [socialist organizers], and labor unions.

  • More than 80,000 took to the streets in Florida, with an estimated 75,000 people marching in Fort Myers. Many held signs with messages such as: "It is not about politics. It is about human beings. Stop being selfish."
  • Demonstrations included up to 500,000 people in Dallas, 50,000 in San Diego, and 20,000 in Salt Lake City, sparked by dozens of rallies and student walkouts.
  • Over 500 demonstrators assembled in downtown Rochester, NY in front of the Federal Building, carrying flags and banners with messages like “Ningun ser humano es ilegal: No human being is illegal.”
  • Up to 8,000 marched in Portland, up to 50,000 in Seattle, hundreds were in the streets in Memphis and dozens of other small cities across the US.
  • In Tucson, counter-demonstrators, probably Minutemen, burned two Mexican flags and police took six people into custody.
  • More first-hand accounts at www.indymedia.org
As a socialist, I am in support of full citizens rights for all immigrants and workers. This is the only way to guarantee that workers are not treated as second class citizens and the ensure that the state protects their rights, no matter their homeland of origin, language or skin color.

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