‘We All Belong Here’: May Day Rallies Draw Large Crowds

Protesters carry signs as they march during a May Day demonstration in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Update, 4:27 p.m. PT

Students at Camino Nuevo Charter School flocked to the windows to watch a civics lesson unfold as thousands of May Day marchers in Los Angeles made their way to City Hall in opposition to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration.

People could be heard chanting “Somos indígenas, no ilegales!” (“We’re indigenous, not illegal!”)

Deepa Fernandes on Twitter

Silverio Pelayo concerned dad w/ daughter Mezli Luna, 8 months. Has undocumented family who he’s here “representing.” #MayDay2017 @KQEDnews

Among those gathered was Silverio Pelayo, who brought his 8-month-old daughter Mezli Luna. Originally from San Fernando Valley, Pelayo said he came to express his desire for a better world for his daughter and his undocumented family members.

“I want to make sure my daughter embraces the understanding that we are all interconnected,” he said. “For all of us to be well, each of us has to be well.”

A bright orange jeep carrying Filipinos in traditional clothing stood out at the L.A. gathering. Aquilina Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center and board president of the National Domestic Worker Alliance, said she was there to bring attention to the hidden fears of Filipinos immigrants, especially those who work as caregivers and domestic workers.

Deepa Fernandes on Twitter

Cultural representation at LA #MayDay2017 – Pilipino Workers, say community is under attack, here to standup 4 domestic workers. @KQEDnews

“Filipinos are the largest Asian Pacific Islander demographic here in California, but we’re not as visible as other communities,” she said. “We want to continue the resistance and the fight back. We are not content with the way things are.” 

Organizers in San Francisco blocked the entrance to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office downtown, chanting “Sanctuary for all!” in one of the first local actions in commemoration of May Day.

Thousands participated in a march from Justin Herman Plaza to Civic Center Plaza. Among them were 500 teachers, according to a school district spokesman. More students were absent than usual, too.

Gabriela Contreras-Cisneros, a fifth grade teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann School, said she and other faculty staged a “sick out” to attend Monday’s march.

“I am the daughter of immigrants, and a lot of my students are immigrants and I think it is important to show students and the community that we need to leave the classroom sometimes to stand for what we believe in.”

Kati Barahona-Lopez, senior case manager from the Central American Resource Center, said she wants people to know that President Trump’s immigration policies are tearing the fabric of immigrant communities in the United States. But she also wants people to know that strong coalitions are coming together in response to such policies.

“I think it’s really important to remember that there’s a coalition of black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander [and] queer communities that stand not only with the immigrant community but with young people [and] folks that are experiencing violence not only here in the United States but throughout the world.”

In Oakland, protesters staged a die-in on the pavement in front of the Alameda County Administrator’s Office where more than 100 people gathered to demand an end to local law enforcement’s collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Protesters say Oakland is a sanctuary city in name only, faulting local police for enforcing Trump’s immigration policies.

Sam Harnett on Twitter

Protestors stage a ‘die-in’ to protest against local police’s collaboration with ICE. @KQEDnews

Isaac Ontiveros, an organizer with Oakland Sin Fronteras, said today’s rallies will be a test of the priorities of local governments. 

“What we’re doing is in some ways trying to get ahead of the game and say: OK Alameda County, which side of history do you want to stand on?”

Original Post:

Since 2006, Latinos have turned out on May Day to protest U.S. immigration policies. But this year, May Day marches are expected to draw a larger coalition of those immigrants rights groups, women’s groups and LGBTQ advocates.

Labor and immigrant advocates are planning walkouts and protests, gearing up this time for big crowds in light of President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies. The marches also coincide with International Workers’ Day.

Denise Solis, Northern California Director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said this year’s event has taken on more importance than previous ones.

“This is a time for us to really look at how all of us can come together across our history, across where we came from, what language we speak, what color we are, who we love, how we worship and just fight for the type of country we want to belong to,” said Solis.

Bert Johnson on Twitter

The scene at #MayDay2017 in front of ICE office at 630 Sansome @KQEDnews https://t.co/t0KegilZhY

May Day participants are planning to march from Justin Herman Plaza to the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco. Similar rallies are being held in Oakland, Los Angeles, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Santa Rosa, Mountain View and cities worldwide.

In Silicon Valley, where tech workers are beginning to flex their political muscle, companies like Google and Facebook say they won’t retaliate against contract workers if they take time off to participate in protests.

Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 87, invited local residents to wear white as a symbol of peace and nonviolence.

White T-shirts were prominent at the historic 2006 May Day marches, too, where hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in Los Angeles — making it one of the largest immigrant rights marches in U.S. history.

We will continue to update this post as the story develops. 

‘We All Belong Here’: May Day Rallies Draw Large Crowds 2 May,2017KQED News Staff

  • Curious

    Life in the shadows, huh? Illegals must be deported. No other country in the world puts up with an invasion like this.

  • Nancy Taylor

    Well all Western countries with well organized social networks draw in a bunch of illegals who want to take advantage of all they can leech off of the society – unfortunately, our illegals have pretty direct access (it’s the few who have tramped through the desert – most just come over a border crossing and never go back except to buy 2nd homes in Mexico and see their relatives) and we don’t seem to have done much about it for 30+ years…this is what we get. Now we need to get rid of a lot of them.

  • Nancy Taylor

    Of course, not all illegal immigrants are from Mexico or Central America…

  • codobai

    The view of many Californians is not a xenophobic anti-immigrant position but the high-regard for being law-abiding. While it’s admirable to say that many people came in the universal pursuit of happiness, justice and livelihood, one cannot overlook the illegal means of obtaining it, and then the audacity to demand “fairness”. If America, or in this case specifically California “owe” the world fair access to those basic opportunities then can anyone and everyone claim a piece of California/America simply by breaking and entering?

  • virgil
  • virgil

    Ironically, for all the gross over coverage of immigration (legal and illegal) on NPR/PBS the only folks that will end up seeing then are white liberal American citizens and of course a small number of fair and balanced folks.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor