It was a significant event that not even the big-business-owned press could
ignore, hard as they wanted to do. May Day 2010 in the United States was the
largest national outpouring of protests since the May Day Immigrant Uprising of
2006, when millions of people, the great majority of Latin American and
Caribbean origin, took to the streets against the reactionary Sensenbrenner
bill that denied full immigrant rights.
This May 1, according to CNN, an estimated 1 million people — between
one-quarter and a half million in Los Angeles alone — protested in at
least 70 U.S. cities against the Arizona bill, SB 1070, which creates an
apartheid state by legalizing the racial profiling of immigrants and people of
color. See coverage in this issue on New York and other cities.
Union Square, NYC
WW photo: Brenda Ryan
This law stipulates that the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement
officials can stop, arrest and detain anyone they “suspect” of
being undocumented and eventually deport them. The law also sets into motion a
50-mile militarized zone between Arizona and the Mexican border.
Many of the protests called major attention to the national and international
boycott of Arizona’s tourism, with popular signs in English and Spanish
reading, “We are all Arizona” and “Todos somos
While the Arizona law propelled tens of thousands of veteran and new activists
into motion, May Day — International Workers Day — afforded the
opportunity for foreign-born and native-born workers of all ages and
nationalities, documented and undocumented, to raise and connect broader issues
including jobs, not racism; the right to health care, education and housing; an
end to war and occupation; and much more. In the midst of a deepening worldwide
capitalist economic crisis, workers and oppressed people are linking their
struggles and refusing to scapegoat other workers.
Thousands march in Arizona
In Arizona and California, tens of thousands came out for full immigrant rights
and against SB 1070.
About 20,000 people marched and rallied in Tucson in the
largest outpouring since May Day 2006. The protest was militant, spirited and
defiant. The demands for “Legalization now!” and “Repeal SB
1070 now!” dominated the speeches. Youth speakers and entertainers kept
the crowd chanting and energized.
The people of Tucson and throughout Arizona support the Boycott Arizona
movement. As the names of cities and organizations that expressed their
solidarity with the struggle in Arizona were read, the crowd cheered. The ICE
raids and apartheid-like bills did not terrorize the population into
submission, but rather evoked outrage and created a movement that continues to
grow. May Day in Tucson was truly celebrated by the workers and the
Paul Teitelbaum from the Tucson May 1 Coalition told the Associated Press,
“[We want] an end to the militarization of the border. We want that money
spent on people’s needs, not on troops to the border.” (May 1)
The Phoenix Metro News reported that 7,000 rallied at the
Arizona state capitol, while Internet sources say 10,000 took part in
Phoenix’s May Day protest.
Hundreds of thousands of protestors came out strong in Los
Angeles on May Day. The march included multinational Latino/a
immigrant participants and non-immigrant organizations of people who felt
compelled to protest the racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070. Many of the signs
attacked the Arizona bill.
This year marked the first time since 2006 that there was one united march in
A large portion of the signs reflected anger at attempts to further criminalize
immigrant workers: “SB 1070 = Schumer plan”; “Legalization
now”; “Obama, Escucha: Schumer plan = Criminalization”;
“No reform — No reelection.”
The Southern California Immigration Coalition contingent, wearing red shirts
and carrying red, Mexican and Honduran flags and flags from other Latin
American countries, represented one of the largest groups in the united
protest. SCIC includes over 40 organizations; some of the major ones are Union
del Barrio, BAYAN-USA, Service Employees Local 721 Latino Caucus, Latino
Congresso and the International Action Center/Bail Out the People Movement.
Two of the rally emcees were Ron Gochez of Union del Barrio and Celina Benitez
of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. Both are
steering committee members of SCIC. They made comments and led chants that made
it clear that any legislation calling for criminalization was not
John Parker from IAC/BOPM said at the main rally, “Solidarity is our most
powerful weapon, and we will not let them disarm us with division, whether it
be a health care bill that leaves out 14 million immigrants or a Schumer plan
that creates criminalized, second-class Bracero workers. We say no to
criminalization — legalization now!”
Historic Chicano Park in San Diego was the assembly site for
the May Day rally, march and an angry confrontation with anti-immigrant
Minutemen at the downtown federal building. Hosted by Unión del Barrio,
over 2,000 people participated.
Among the rally speakers was Gloria Verdieu of the Free Mumia Coalition and the
San Diego International Action Center. In a dramatic show of unity with the
Latino/a community, Verdieu took the stage with a delegation of
African-American community members and other activists. She told the crowd,
“May Day must be a mobilization that calls for a major campaign to build
Black and Brown unity as an anchor for the unity of people of color and all
workers struggling for human rights and global justice. ... All workers in the
U.S. — especially those who don’t need to fear the immigration
Gestapo — must show the strongest solidarity. ... We must win
legalization for all workers in the U.S. and reinforce the unity and solidarity
among all workers.”
Other participants in the day’s events included the Aztec Drummers and
Dancers, BAYAN USA, the Border Angels, the Guerrero Azteca Peace Project, the
United African American Ministerial Council, Friends of Cuba, Veterans for
Peace and the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice.
Bay Area joins protests
In the San Francisco Mission District thousands of immigrant
workers, family members, community organizations and their supporters spilled
out into the streets to join the national protest for immigrant rights. The
marchers, who stretched for over five city blocks, chanted, yelled, sang and
beat drums all the way to the Civic Center.
“We are people! We are not illegal, no!” and other chants echoed
from the protesters and the crowds that gathered to cheer and sing alongside
the march. A sea of humanity representing the multitude of immigrants came
together to state unequivocally, “There are no borders in the
The march was led by immigrant workers from the AFL-CIO State Labor Council,
the Service Employees union, the Transport Workers union, the hotel workers
union UNITE HERE, and other labor organizations. A truck held the many national
flags of the Americas and carried Indigenous drummers.
At a rally held in the Civic Center, speakers condemned the recent legislation
passed in Arizona. The May 1 protest was organized by the San Francisco May Day
Judy Greenspan, John Parker, Paul Teitelbaum and Gloria Verdieu contributed to this report.
Slideshow photographers include
Brenda Ryan, G. Dunkel, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Imani Henry, Greg Butterfield, Julia La Riva, Deirdre Griswold, Monica Moorehead, John Catalinotto, Liz Green, Judy Greenspan, Susan Schnur, Gloria Rubac, Lisa Reels, Jorge L., Eric Jones, Susan Massad, Joao Brandao, Jr. and Lorraine Fontana.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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