Immigration protests sweep US

An estimated two million people took part in coordinated demonstrations in more than 140 US cities on April 10, a National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice demanding legalization and other rights for out-of-status immigrants. Organizers scheduled the protests for a Monday during congressional recess so elected officials would be in their home districts to witness them. Hundreds of thousands more marched on the previous day, April 9. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, April 11)

Northeast: DC to Maine

In Washington, at least 200,000 people poured onto the National Mall on April 10, waving US flags and chanting in Spanish, “Si, se puede” (“yes, we can”). (AJC, April 11) Organizers estimated the crowd size on the Mall at 500,000. The District’s Metropolitan Police Department did not provide crowd estimates. (Miami Herald, Washington Times, April 11)

In New York City, Police declined to estimate the size of the crowds, but organizers said 125,000 people were present at City Hall on April 10. (AP, April 11) “We are inseparable, indivisible and impossible to take out of America,” Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, told a spirited crowd. (New York Times, April 11) On April 9, some 700 people rallied at the office of Rep. Peter King (R-NY) in Massapequa, Long Island. The Long Island Immigrant Alliance organized the action to protest King’s co-sponsorship of anti-immigrant bill HR 4437, passed by the House last December. (NYT, April 10)

In New Jersey, several hundred people rallied on April 10 in Liberty Park, Jersey City, within sight of the Statute of Liberty. (AP, April 11) Some 7,000 people rallied in Philadelphia. (MH, Washington Post, April 11)

In Boston, an April 10 march from Boston Common to Copley Square drew a crowd Boston police estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 people. (Boston Globe, April 11) The Washington Post gave a higher figure– 10,000–for the Boston demonstration. (WP, April 11) According to police estimates, about 5,000 people marched in Providence, Rhode Island, on April 10. (AP, April 10) About three dozen people, mainly religious leaders, rallied in front of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Concord, New Hampshire.

Some 200 people demonstrated in Portland, Maine–one of the few sites where violence was reported. An individual described as a Latino teenager, his face hidden with a bandanna, ran up to one of three white counter-protesters and hit him with an unidentified object, bloodying the man’s face. “When you promote violence, you get violence,” said Rev. Virginia Maria Rincon, one of the rally organizers. “Our rally is about promoting a peaceful dialogue.” (Portsmouth Herald, NH, April 11)

South: Florida to Texas

More than 2,500 people, including many farmworkers, rallied at sunset on April 10 in Homestead, Florida, south of Miami. (AP, MH, April 11) Another 4,000 people rallied in Lake Worth, Florida. (WP, April 11) More than 300 people rallied at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. (MH, April 11) Some 7,000 people rallied in Miami on April 9. (Amherst Times, NY, April 10)

Police estimated between 30,000 and 40,000 people marched in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 10; the Washington Post reported 50,000, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests the number was probably closer to 60,000. (AJC, WP, April 11) Organizers were forced to improvise a detour to extend the three- mile march route after the front of the march caught up with the tail end. Other supporters stood at intersections and cheered the marchers on. (AJC, April 11) Rev. James Orange, from the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, compared the Atlanta march to civil rights demonstrations led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and farmworker leader Cesar Chavez. “People of the world, we have come to say this is our moment,” Orange said. (AP, April 11)

The civil rights movement of the 1960s was also evoked at an April 10 rally in Jackson, Mississippi, where some 500 people sang “We Shall Overcome” in Spanish. (La Jornada, Mexico, April 11) In Birmingham, Alabama, some 4,000 demonstrators marched on April 9 to a rally at Kelly Ingram Park, where in 1963 police turned firehoses on black children at civil rights protests. Rev. Derrill Wilson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference addressed the crowd. (AP, April 10, 11; Amherst Times, April 10) Hundreds of people also demonstrated on April 10 in Greenville, South Carolina, and outside the federal courthouse in Lexington, Kentucky. (AP, April 11)

In Dallas, Texas, police estimated that nearly 500,000 people rallied on April 9, making it the largest demonstration in the city’s history. Another 7,000 people (or up to 30,000, according to the national radio program “Democracy Now!”) marched the same day in the neighboring city of Fort Worth. (Star-Telegram, AP, DN!, April 11) The April 9 events included a boycott of Dallas businesses, dubbed “Not a Penny Spent.” (MarketWatch, April 10; S-T, April 11) On April 10, organizers in Houston estimated 50,000 people rallied at a park before marching to the spot where the city’s founders first arrived. (AP, April 11) Another 10,000 people marched in Austin, the state capital, on April 10. (WP, April 11)

Some 2,000 people converged from three feeder marches into an April 10 rally in downtown El Paso, Texas, organized by the Border Network for Human Rights. In one of the feeder marches, some 300 people walked along a border highway from Sunland Park, just over the state line in New Mexico. Organizers scheduled the march for 4 PM and urged students not to skip school. On March 31 some 6,000 peopleā€”including many studentsā€”marched in El Paso during school hours to commemorate farmworker leader Cesar Chavez. (El Paso Times, AP, April 11)

Midwest: Indiana to Nebraska

About 20,000 people rallied in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 10. (Catholic News Service, April 11) Hundreds marched in South Bend, Indiana and in Champaign, Illinois. Police estimated 30,000 rallied April 9 at the state capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP, April 10, 11) Some 10,000 people marched on April 10 to the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. (WP, NYT, April 11) On April 9, 4,000 marched in Boise, Idaho. (Amherst Times, April 10)

In southwestern Kansas, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people rallied in Garden City, a farming community with a total population of 30,000. (AP, April 10; Hutchinson News, April 11) About 50 miles to the east in Dodge City, home to two major meat- packing plants, another 2,000 people marched to the local office of Republican senator Pat Roberts. (HN, April 11, 12) The Dodge City rally resulted in a slowdown at the Excel Corp. beef- packing plant, according to Mark Klein, spokesperson for Wichita- based Cargill Meat Solutions, which operates the plant. (Kansas City Star, April 11; HN, April 12) A noon rally in Great Bend, about 100 miles northeast of Dodge City in central Kansas, attracted between 200 and 300 people. And some 60 to 80 people rallied in Liberal, another meat-packing town about 100 miles south of Garden City on the Oklahoma border. (HN, April 11) An estimated 1,000 people rallied in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (KOTV, April 12) About 10,000 people had rallied in Oklahoma City more than a week earlier, on April 1. (Pioneer Online, April 10) Several thousand people marched in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 10. (KCS, April 11)

In eastern Nebraska, another meat-packing area, April 10 brought unprecedented demonstrations. Some 4,000 people rallied outside the state capitol in Lincoln, while just 50 miles to the east, police estimated another 8,000 to 10,000 marched through downtown Omaha, from the Heartland of America Park to the federal courthouse. (Lincoln Journal Star, April 12;, April 10) Several hundred people left school and work to rally in Columbus, Nebraska, about 60 miles northwest of Lincoln, in what was called “A Day without Latinos.” According to demonstrator Porfirio Centero, who works for the Tyson Fresh Meats Pork Plant in nearby Madison, “They closed the plant because a lot of people walked out.” Cargill Meat Solutions spokesperson Mark Klein said production was slowed at the Cargill plant in Schuyler, another nearby town. (Columbus Telegram, April 11) Some 1,000 people demonstrated farther north in Norfolk, and 5,000 people marched from South Sioux City in the northeastern corner of Nebraska across the state line to Sioux City, Iowa. (LJS, April 12;, April 10) On April 9, some 5,000 people marched in Des Moines, Iowa. (Times-Republican, Marshalltown, IA, April 10)

West: Colorado to California

In Colorado, police estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 people took part in an April 10 march around Sloan’s Lake in northwest Denver, honoring migrants who died crossing the border. Organizers said up to 15,000 people participated. An estimated 5,000 people marched around the Denver Civic Center earlier in the day, according to organizers. More than 1,000 people attended a rally in Colorado Springs, headed by three Latino US soldiers who just returned from a year-long combat tour in Iraq with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment based in nearby Fort Carson. “Today, over 10,000 undocumented persons are serving in our armed forces,” said Albert Gonzales, president of the local chapter of the American G.I. Forum. Rallies or vigils were also held in Telluride, Boulder and Grand Junction. (Rocky Mountain News, April 11)

In Salt Lake City, Utah, some 50,000 people marched on April 9. (Diario Hoy, April 11)

About 200 people, many of them high school students, demonstrated on Apr. 10 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Albuquerque Tribune, April 11) Hundreds of students missed classes in Santa Fe, Deming and Hatch on April 10, and at least 300 people marched past City Hall in Las Cruces. (AP, April 11)

More than 100,000 people marched through Phoenix, Arizona from the state fairgrounds to the capitol on April 10, backing up freeway traffic for miles. Organizers believe the crowd may have numbered 200,000 or more. (Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, AP, April 11) More than 11,500 people demonstrated in Tucson, while an anti-immigrant counter-protest at the same site drew fewer than a dozen people. A scuffle broke out when counter- demonstrators burned a Mexican flag; Tucson police detained four or five people. Nearly 15,000 studentsā€”about a fifth of the totalā€”and more than 500 teachers were absent from Tucson schools on April 10. (ADS, April 10, 11)

In San Diego, California about 50,000 demonstrators marched through the streets on April 9. (AP, April 11) In Los Angeles on April 10, thousands held a candlelight vigil outside La Placita church before beginning an evening march. Police estimated the crowd at 7,000. Several thousand protesters marched outside the state capitol in Sacramento, and hundreds rallied in San Francisco. (AP, LAT, April 11) An estimated 5,000 people marched in Oakland, according to the Washington Post; Arnoldo Garcia of the Oakland-based National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) estimated the crowd at close to 20,000. (WP, April 11) According to the Los Angeles Times, California’s largest demonstration on April 10 was in Fresno, where about 10,000 people marched in what a police spokesperson called “by far the largest event we have ever had in the city.” (LAT, April 11)

Thousands demonstrated in Salem, Oregon, on April 9. (Amherst Times, April 10) In Seattle, Washington, about 15,000 demonstrators marched on April 10. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 12)

From Immigration News Briefs, April 15

See our last post on the immigrants’ rights struggle.