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Shout Out to May Day: Unidos Estamos, Nos Quedamos
by Aisling McIntyre
Thursday May 18th, 2006 3:23 PM
The Project, Page 8
Immigrant rights groups all over the U.S. called for a general strike on May 1st, International Worker's Day. This article gives an explanation of what happened in different cities such as Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Salinas, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and so forth on May 1st when an estimated 1.5 million people all over the country showed up to protest against HR4437.
Within the past few months there have been several displays of protest against HR 4437 and all of the xenophobic legislation tied to it. March 25th had an outpouring of over half a million people marching against HR 4437 just in Los Angeles, but that still was not enough. Immigrant rights groups all over the U.S. called for a general strike on May 1st, International Worker’s Day. The call out was for people not to go to school, to work, or to consume. The idea behind the strike was to show how important people affected by and in solidarity with those affected by HR 4437 are to this country. An estimated 1.5 million people showed up not to work, not to school but to protest HR 4437.

Solidarity with this struggle is extremely necessary after events like April 20th where 1,187 undocumented workers were detained at work by “Homeland Security” officers. The raids occurred in 26 states making it the largest raid in history with 265 people already having been deported to Mexico by the next day.

In Santa Cruz, for those of you who were not there, a coalition of students set up a mock border at the base of campus. Once people had gathered the crowd spilled out into the Bay/High intersection where there was a rally with students from several student organizations speaking about border issues. The rally then took to High St. and marched down to the clock tower to meet up with a separate march that had originated in the Beach Flats. The march that left from the base started with around 600 students, workers, and faculty, and ended up at the clock tower with 1,000-strong. Estimates of the combined UCSC and Beach Flats march was over 5,000 protesters, who all gathered in San Lorenzo Park for a follow-up rally.

In Watsonville estimates vary between 10,000-12,000 protesters. One high school was so scared of what the power of the students might look like that they kept the school closed for the day so as to prevent walkouts. A strong majority of businesses were closed throughout Watsonville for the day to honor the strike.
Bakersfield had 15,000+ at their protest where the police tried to barricade people within the protest. Several peaceful protesters were arrested. It was estimated that 4,000 students did not attend school that day.

Salinas had 15,000+ people. There are reports that this was the largest march in decades, with several shops being closed for the day.

San Franicsco: 100,000 marched from the mission district to the civic center blocking cable cars along the way to further disrupt business as usual.

Chicago had an estimated 700,000 people out and raising their fists, which is actually more people than attended the original march in 1886 for the eight hour day (by about 670,000).

Los Angeles had over a million people marching in two separate protests, one in downtown L.A. and one in mid-Wilshire. An amazing event of the day was that the truckers were able to shut down 90% of the Long Beach ports. Estimated losses from the strike are being estimated as high as two million dollars from within L.A. alone.

San Diego had tens of thousands of people protesting dowtown. Once the protest had stopped at San Ysidro park, a park that runs along the border, there was a spontaneous second march that consisted of a hundred or so people. The group walked from San Ysidro to the Tijuana border and sat down in front of trafic effectively shutting down the border for an hour.

In Tijuana over a thousand people protested, also blocking the border, meaning that they were simultaneous protests both sides stopping business as usual. If you don’t think that’s hot, I do not know what it is.

New York had millions protesting with stores closed throughout the city. There were several different actions happening, with a major march and rally in union square. At the speak-out there were speakers from countries from all over the world speaking on behalf of immigrant rights.

San Jose had an estimated 100,000 people at their march, making it one of the largest, if not the largest, in the city’s history.