The Good, The Bad And The Ugly... May Day Immigration March - Los Angeles, Ca - May 1st, 2010
Last week, Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation’s toughest anti-illegal immigration legislation, and emotions were running high as I arrived a couple of hours late to this year’s May Day demonstration in Downtown L.A. According to the website that I’d been reading, everyone was to gather at the intersection of Olympic and Broadway between 10am and 11am. I arrived at the Pershing Square metro station just after 1pm and quickly walked one block to Broadway where I joined in a march that extended as far as the eye could see in both directions.
The vast majority of the people surrounding me as we walked toward the Civic Center were waving the American flag.
The streets were packed with families. It seemed at times there were as many children as there were adults. Baby strollers literally caused traffic jams.
The biggest fear among most of the demonstrators is that tougher enforcement of illegal immigration laws would result in families being torn apart. This is a very real fear, especially among children.
Anyone who has grown up in the American South West knows that there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of families here in which all of the children are U.S. citizens; born here, raised here, attending school here, who have never even been to Mexico, whose parents are here illegally. These children know of no other country than the United States. They are innocent of any crime. And they live with a constant fear that their parents could be deported at any time. It is because of these children that any resolution to America’s illegal immigration problem must include the opportunity for legal residency and a pathway to citizenship for non-criminal parents of American born children.
Scattered among the crowd were numerous high school students wearing their graduation caps and gowns.
The noise of the march was at times deafening.
I experienced mixed emotions as I walked with the massive crowd. I’ve lived in Southern California all my life and there is no doubt that the seemingly endless influx of illegal immigrants from south of the border has had a profound effect on the quality of life in my home state over the course of my lifetime. Schools that were once the best in the country are now among the worst. Vast swaths of Los Angeles, areas that were once very nice neighborhoods, are now gang ridden, graffiti covered barrios. And the emergency rooms of Southern California hospitals have essentially become free clinics for the undocumented and uninsured. Yet, having grown up here, I have spent all of my life working with, and living with, Mexicans and Central Americans as friends, co-workers and quite simply, as the people I meet everyday, everywhere I go. And so I know, without a shred of doubt, that the vast majority of those who cross our southern border are fine, decent people, who have come to this country for the very same reasons that my grandparents came here; to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Yet I saw much that troubled me at this protest. Far too many of the demonstrators seemed impervious to, and even scornful of, the legitimate concerns of American citizens. Many protestors demanded nothing less that full citizenship, immediately.
And many of the protesters seemed utterly tone-deaf to the counter-persuasive effects that their signs, which often employed swastikas, Klu Klux Klan imagery and other rude remarks, would have on ordinary Americans who might see them. Fortunately for the demonstrators most "professional" journalists judiciously avoid documenting such offensive signs.
Which brings us to another problem - Many Latin Americans still hold a romanticized view of Communism, and Socialism.
One did not have to look very far to see Red Flags popping up among the sea of red, white and blue.
The sight of hundreds, even thousands of immigrants (legal or otherwise) waving red flags and carrying banners of Che Guevarra (not to mention the Hammer and Sickle) in the streets of a major U.S. city is not going to win any sympathy from the majority of Americans.
The very fact that Hispanic immigrants have chosen May 1st as their protest day of choice is a problem in and of itself.
This pretty young woman was a full fledged Communist who spent nearly an hour preaching the virtues of "socialist liberation" and a world without borders.
There was also another element in the crowd, that being anarchists and an assortment of street punks. Dirtballs like these bozos show up at most every Leftwing protest in town and essentially make asses of themselves; strutting around, yelling obscenities and taunting the police.
As a matter of fact, most of the "anarchists" on hand were not even Hispanic.
To be sure, the vast majority of people at this demonstration were not Marxists or anarchist, and many of the American flag waving participants seemed genuinely uncomfortable at the sight of so many Red and Black flags and banners. And when they began to play their punk music at high volume, and then began "moshing", everyone else steered clear of them…
…everyone that is but the police who stood close by with helmets and batons in hand.
The march came to an end at the intersection of Temple and First St., a block from City Hall, between the Court House and the Los Angeles Times building.
People stood around for a while and listened to speeches in both English and Spanish.
Quite a few people held signs which read, "Do I Look Illegal?"
One fellow took portraits of people in the style of mug shots.
A few more pictures of people and their signs…
Most people - especially families with children - having reached the end of the march, continued on to the subway station or back to their cars, leaving behind a dwindling crowd of scragglers who gathered around the obligatory drum circle.
After about twenty more minutes the police asked the few remaining people to get off the street and on to the sidewalk. Moments later they reopened Broadway to car traffic. The May Day march of 2010 was over.
As I walked back to the Metro station I passed a popular Mexican "botanica" that sells herbs, candles, magic potions and good luck charms. I stood there for a moment looking at the statues of saints and demons displayed in the shop’s window, and noticed that the most prominent effigies for sale were those of Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of Mexican drug traffickers .
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