Press Statement

By Javier Rodriguez and Ruben Gonzalez Los Angeles May 2, 2017

Conclusively, this May 1st 2017, hundreds of thousands marched nationally in  defense of  immigrants, children, women, Muslims, workers, unions, gays and against the continued inhuman, racist, brutal and misogynist attacks by Pres. Trump and his underlings, US Attorney General  Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security’s Chief Kelley. The message to the neo-fascist billionaire administration was clear, “today we Latinos and immigrants got our stride back with hundreds of cities marching against you, and we have finally opened the door to once again build a movement as powerful as the millions that marched and boycotted during the Immigrant Spring  of 2006, and with it and all allies, we will force your ass out of the White House”.

The powerful rebuke to the president’s negligible 100 days in office, was the largest show of street power by Latinos in diverse cities like New York, Milwaukee, Miami, San Francisco, and proudly May Day in Los Angeles was 50,000 strong in the streets of McArthur Pk, Wilshire Blvd, Hill and Broadway, Boyle Heights. Statewide tens of thousands protested in San Francisco and more in Pomona, La Puente SGV, Riverside, Santa Ana and Long Beach.

For the usually divided immigration reform groups in and around downtown LA., this was the largest demonstration since 2010, when ¼ million people marched against Arizona’s SB 1070.  However, of all the mobilizations, the day belonged to the CHIRLA, labor and Day Laborers led Coalition and its 60 plus organizations. With an estimated 40,000 marchers -our count- their event extended a mile, wall to wall, all the way through City Hall. This, the largest block consumed 90% of the media coverage directly with their opening kickoff and indirectly through staged protests and civil disobedience by clergy, labor, the Southwest Caravan to break the fear and the protests against the Sheriffs  by NDLON. Many people that saw them in the news caught on, however we noticed throughout they never once invited the people or the media to the May 1st March. We speculated this talking point could have doubled their crowd and doubled the coverage. Elemental.

Because we followed the organizing campaigns and the media coverage for two months in which this block captured 90% of the coverage; knowing most of the actors at play; scanned the assembly gathering from 9:30 AM to the starting time, and saw 300 people mushroom by the thousands; walked the 2.45 miles and throughout the route alternated appraising the march from head to toe, including, ID all the organized contingents and actually sizing the independents at the cry of “march,” when at least 2,000 of them bypassed the protocol line and the  leading huge American flag, and subsequently multiplied the protest. In fact, the deciding point of the route for our estimated count, was the corner of Wilshire and Hope where we had a panoramic view of the surging proud, angry and happy militant throngs.

The event was full of colorful signs and banners accompanied by 15 drummers, guitarists, Korean tamborines and the versatile Jornaleros del Norte singing revolutionary songs, corridos and yes cumbias and Salsa, which motivated dancing in all the beautiful enraged women who were the majority of the day. A reversal to the many marches called since Trump’s election in LA, the May Day  events were overwhelmingly Latino but also multiracial, but the tens of thousands of progressive white activists were missed. Moreover, the Latino Spanish chants were back along with their English counterparts.

“Unity Light”

The declared unity by the leaders of the coalitions just four days before May 1st in their only press conference, was  certainly a step in the right path. Their decision to hold several marches and then justify them as the best approach to generate support, appeared to us as “Unity Light”. Not surprising, the two coalitions on Broadway and Olympic scheduled to start at the same time, bucked horns over positioning, and predictably,  according to my long time friend Gloria Saucedo, the Full Rights Coalition led by Juan Jose Gutierrez, moved a diminutive quantity of marchers.

To add Kate Del Castillo’s Honor Tequila to the wound, Gloria’s busload of Hermandad Mexicana female members ended in the opposite coalition, that is, Juan’s march of 150 people and their sound truck in the back. So she gave the instructions to her Hermandad Adelitas, to move their people to the front demonstration which according to one observer I know, had “3k to 5k people”. The LA Times reported several thousand but LA Opinion, the TV networks and the LAPD saidhundreds.

Additionally, upon reaching First and Broadway we saw chaos. There was actually three separate stages, and of course the most professional was a high tech eight feet tall structure, with giant screens, and this was CHIRLA’s group. Incredibly the leaders were not able to reach a “mature welcome to City Hall agreement, where they could have embraced, raised their hands together and show the media, their marchers and the millions through the news that they had unified as we did before in 2008 and 2010”.

Interestingly, throughout their campaigns, organizers created huge march expectations for themselves and a part of the media stating publicly on at least two occasions, “there will be  hundreds of thousands and a big massive immigrant shutdown of the region”. However, humble reality is the granddaddy of all movements. Whether some of the leaders will take it at heart, time will soon tell.

The LAPD brass contentiously called the McArthur Pk. March at 15,000. What mathematical formula are they using to count large crowds? How is it that the cops numbers are never questioned? Why does the media swallow the police lie as if the President was speaking? LOL. Since 2006 we have had this controversy. In March 25, 2006 the cops called it at 500,000, but the majority of the news air reports were saying 1 to 2 million people. And, approximately 7 to 10 days after that event, LA’s KWHY Ch 22 published a study of the size of that march through air photos and a digital count and surprise surprise, their count totaled 1.7 million people which makes it the largest in the history of this country. The M25C knew two weeks before the 25th, we had 1 million, in fact all the rental buses in the state had been taken for the march. In 2010, at a meeting with them, I confronted their representative and he promised they would not get involved because it was their business. At the end of that May Day event, they said 60,000 and we 250,000. Trust me they are not born liars, it comes with the training, police culture and the “Blue Code”, no different than the Mafia’s Mano Negra. By now you must have caught on, this is why we counted with our own formula

Conclusions

In our humble experience, what we saw as the principal message of this process, is the fact the “the door to the elusive world of the real mega marches in the hundreds of thousands or millions, has once again made its appearance”.

The last time this type of juncture surfaced was on April 7, 2007, when Juan’s coalition, with the assistance of DJ El Mandril and La Que Buena Radio  Station, 40,000 marched on Broadway to stop deportations and Immigration Reform. Then on April 20 -with a four month march and boycott campaign as a background. – the M25C staged a 10 day hunger strike in front of the Altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Parish of La Placita. On May 1, 100,000 people marched on Broadway accompanied by the 2nd Great American Boycott which modestly closed everything in sight of downtown. The LAPD though had other ideas for that day. They did all they all could to provoke an incident in our march, they failed so they waited for the afternoon march. You know the rest.

Unfortunately, during the programs of the Monday events, the general strike was forgotten as well as the 2007 anniversary of the police bloodshed on hundreds of immigrants and members of the media.

The May Day battle was won and the effects of the 2017 national marches will reverberate for weeks, however, the war continues against the neo fascists and the Republican Party, whom Noam Chomsky has called the most dangerous organization in the planet. We propose a two day national people’s summit in Los Angeles in the immediate future, to convene some of the best progressive organizing minds in the movement to firmly strategize, without the factional divisions, and plan the fight to build a permanent organic structural struggle for immigration reform and all related issues, such as universal health care. Hopefully if successful and any  funding comes through, a national headquarters in D.C. should be a must and regional statewide offices in every state of the Union. Trust us, we’re not going to be the first, there are already thousands of progressives, who shocked by the results of the November election, are now active in established and/or new found groups in the country, whose main goal is fighting the ultra right fascist billionaires and ousting their boy Trump. To start, a transparent organizing committee and or promoting commission should be convened and openly discuss the idea and allow it to fly. ZAZ

Javier Rodriguez is a media and political advisor and a co-founder and director of the M25Coalition 2006-2011. BAJOLAMIRADEJAVIERR@GMAIL.COM BLOG LARAYUELADEJAVIER.WORDPRESS.COM

Ruben Gonzalez, an immigrant from Cuernava, Mexico was a leading member of the M25Coalition 2006-2010; then moved to Las Vegas and became a leader there also on immigration and a successful proponent of medical services to 1,500 undocumented children with severe illnesses; and today is also a socially responsible businessman and a family man with three daughters studying for their upper level degrees in investigative medicine, dentistry and journalism.

 

*Caution, this press statement does not cover the rally programs before and after  the march. What we can name are the progressive star politicos and their articulate and progressive speeches such as Mayor Garcetti, Sen. Kevin de Leon, Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, Sup. Hilda Solis and Assembly candidate Maria Elena Durazo, she was full of fire.

 

Advertisements