May Day mobilization: national round-up

On May 1, 2007, thousands of people around the US marched and rallied for immigrant rights. Media coverage focused on the fact that the demonstrations were much smaller than similar actions last spring—even though advocates knew well in advance that the numbers in the streets this May 1 wouldn’t match last year’s mass mobilizations. Organizers and policy analysts offered several reasons for the lower numbers: conflict over the STRIVE Act, a legislative proposal which some groups support but many see as far too punitive; the fact that harsh anti-immigrant legislation like HR4437, which spurred last year’s protests, is no longer on the table; and fear among immigrants stemming from a major increase in raids over the past year. Immigrants and supporters rallied this year around legalization as well as an end to the raids. In all, more than half a million people demonstrated in over 100 cities and towns in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The following summary is based on available news reports.

Capital Area

Washington DC: About 450 people gathered at Taft Park for a rally in front of the US Capitol. The group included some 300 Asian activists brought in by bus from other areas. Activists also visited elected officials in a lobbying effort. A crowd demonstrated outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters before marching three blocks to the Republican National Committee headquarters. The demonstration was co-sponsored by the National Capital Immigrant Coalition and the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). (Washington Times, May 2; Washington Post, May 2; Campus Progress [Center for American Progress, DC], May 3) Immigrant supporters also rallied at Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. (WT, May 2)

Maryland: Several hundred people took part in a public forum in support of immigrant rights at Union Bethel AME Church in Brandywine. The event was organized by a coalition of Maryland pastors, as part of a new partnership among the workers’ rights group CASA de Maryland, the Partnership for Renewal in Southern and Central Maryland (PRISCM) and the National Capital Immigrant Coalition. (WP, May 5)

Virginia: A rally was held on May 1 in front of Alexandria’s city hall. (WT, May 2)


Florida: In Miami, more than 1,000 people rallied at the government center before marching downtown. (Miami Herald, May 2; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, May 2) In West Palm Beach, about 1,000 people marched from the Kravis Center to the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building. In Belle Glade, about 200 people, mostly second- and third-generation teenagers from Glades Central High, marched past sugar cane fields and through the city’s downtown to a rally at Pioneer Park. Last year’s May 1 action in Belle Glade drew 5,000 people. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, May 2) In Immokalee, more than 500 workers formed a human chain along a busy road in a three-hour demonstration culminating at Farmworker’s Village. (News-Press, Fort Myers, May 2)

[According to media reports, no rallies were planned or took place in Atlanta, or elsewhere in Georgia, even though 50,000 marched in Atlanta on May 1 last year. (AP, May 2)]

North Carolina: In Raleigh, about 500 people turned out for a rally at the capitol on the evening of May 1. (AP, May 2) In Charlotte, organizers said more than 600 people gathered at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center for a bilingual evening rally. (Charlotte Observer, May 2) About 50 people gathered in song and prayer at a vigil in the parking lot of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville. (Asheville Citizen-Times, May 2) Events also took place in Burlington, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Hickory, Lumberton, Siler City and Wilmington. (Workers World, May 3)

Kentucky: In Louisville, more than 250 people took part in a 5 PM rally at the federal courthouse before marching to Jefferson Square Park. Last year on May 1 more than 1,000 people attended a midday rally in Louisville. (Louisville Courier-Journal, May 2) On April 29 in Lexington, hundreds attended a “Solidarity Sunday!” cultural event at a local park. (Lexington Herald-Leader, May 30)


New York: In New York City, two feeder marches converged at a rally at Union Square in Manhattan. Nearly 4,000 people rallied in Chinatown and at least another 1,000 took part in an interfaith vigil in Washington Square Park. Both groups then marched to Union Square to join a larger demonstration, followed by a march along Broadway back downtown to Foley Square, behind the Federal Building. (El Diario-La Prensa, May 2; amNewYork, May 2) According to the New York Daily News, organizers estimated that a total of 20,000 people attended the Union Square rally, while police sources put the crowd count closer to 3,000. (DN, May 2)

As a section of the march passed the intersection of Broadway and 8th Street around 6 PM, without warning a police officer attacked a demonstrator who was wearing a traditional Mexican wrestler’s mask, and tried to forcibly remove his mask. A melee ensued between police and demonstrators. The masked man’s cousin, Rosendo Bonifacio, was arrested; it was not clear whether there were any other arrests. Bonifacio said three or four agents jumped on top of him and beat him, then pepper-sprayed him in the face after handcuffing him. Bonifacio spent the night in jail and was charged with obstruction of government administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Alberto Lezama, a member of Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio who witnessed the scene, said police attacked the crowd like “rabid dogs,” indiscriminately beating up men and women with their nightsticks. (El Diario-La Prensa, May 3)

[On May 1 in 2000 and 2001, police arrested people at New York City immigrant rights marches on the pretext of enforcing a state law that barred the wearing of masks at public demonstrations. In the 2001 incident, which involved a wrestling mask being used in a street theater performance, police beat up demonstrators, legal observers and journalists. The anti-mask law was overturned in November 2002; it is unclear why the police thought they had the right to remove someone’s mask at this year’s demonstration.]

On Long Island, 1,000 people rallied in Hempstead. (Workers World, May 3) In White Plains, in Westchester County just north of New York City, about 100 mostly Latino students walked out of classes at White Plains High School and marched to Renaissance Plaza, where they held a peaceful demonstration for immigrant rights. (Journal News, May 2) About 80 people turned up for a march and rally in the village of Spring Valley, in Rockland County in the lower Hudson Valley area. Starting at about 10:15 AM, the march led from the parking lot of International Food Mart on Route 59 up Main Street to Memorial Park. Last year, an estimated 1,500 people marched in Spring Valley. Factors contributing to this year’s lower turnout included doubt as to whether the village would issue a permit for the march and immigrants’ fear of exposure, said Hugo Jimenez of the Spring Valley May Day Coalition, which organized the event. (Journal News, May 2)

In Rochester, more than 50 people carried signs and marched outside the Kenneth B. Keating Building. Last year, hundreds of immigrant rights advocates marched on the Rochester federal building. (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 2)

In Buffalo, a group of students demonstrated at their high school on May 1 to protest the school’s administration, oppose military recruiters and support immigrant rights. They were joined by students and teachers from other high schools and from the University at Buffalo (part of the state university system, SUNY). The protesters then drove to City Hall and to the Buffalo office of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to protest the criminalization of students and immigrants. (Workers World, May 3)

New Jersey: About 200 protesters gathered in downtown Morristown, in north Jersey, according to organizers. This year protesters were motivated by anger over Morristown mayor Donald Cresitello’s proposal to have the Department of Homeland Security train local police officers to enforce immigration laws. Last year 1,500 demonstrated in Morristown. (Bergen Record, May 2) At least 60 people (or 150 according to El Diario-La Prensa) gathered in Paramus to protest outside the office of Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, who supports legislation that would criminalize undocumented immigrants. (Herald News, BR, ED-LP, May 2)

Some 30 people rallied in a park in Jersey City before marching to Union City. (El Diario-La Prensa, May 2) The Jersey City rally was sponsored by New Jersey members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Dudley Griffith, president of ACORN’s political committee, drew a parallel with the slave trade. “History teaches us that the same thing happened to black people,” he said. “My people were brought here in chains. Families were torn apart. And America overcame that. We must have a conscience as human beings and remember where we came from.” (Asbury Park Press, May 2 from AP) More than 200 people, many of them farmworkers, marched in Bridgeton in south Jersey. The Bridgeton demonstration was organized by the Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (Committee to Support Agricultural Workers, CATA). (Al Dia, Philadelphia, May 2)

Pennsylvania: About 175 protesters, including many from Delaware, marched through the streets of Kennett Square on May 1. The demonstration was organized by the Kaolin Workers Union, which represents mushroom workers in Kennett Square, and by CATA. (News Journal, Wilmington, May 2; Al Dia, Philadelphia, May 2) About 50 people took part in a vigil in Allentown on April 30. (Al Dia, May 2, some from EFE)

Connecticut: Hundreds of people marched in downtown New Haven and rallied on the New Haven Green. Police said 250 to 300 people took part in the rally. (AP, May 1)

Rhode Island: An estimated 500 to 600 people marched through Providence to the State House. Last year, 15,000 to 20,000 people marched in Providence. This year about 20 members of a group called Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement held a counter-demonstration. (Providence Journal, May 2)

Massachusetts: In Boston, about 500 people rallied on the Common in a demonstration organized by the Boston May Day Coalition. (Workers World, May 3; Boston Globe, May 2) There were 25 anti-immigrant counter-demonstrators at the scene. (BG, May 2) As many as 2,000 immigrants and supporters (or “several hundred,” according to WCVB-TV) held a separate rally in the Central Square of East Boston after marching from the nearby towns of Everett and Chelsea. The march started at the Everett town hall with about 60 people, according to the Boston Herald, but picked up more people as it passed through Chelsea to East Boston. Chelsea Collaborative, a coalition of grassroots community groups, organized the East Boston demonstration. (Workers World, May 3; Daily Free Press [Boston Univ. student newspaper], May 2; Boston Herald, May 2; WCVB-TV, May 1)

About 200 people attended a rally on the Town Common in Amherst, and about 50 rallied in Court Square in Springfield. (The Republican, Springfield, May 2) The Amherst rally included more than 50 students from Amherst High School who walked out of class to attend. Many students from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst also walked out of class. (Workers World, May 3) Smaller demonstrations were also held in Lowell, Fitchburg, and Worcester. (BG, May 2; WCVB-TV, May 1)


Illinois: The largest event nationwide was in Chicago, where police estimated 150,000 people took part in an afternoon march. Organizer Jorge Mujica said he believed 250,000 to 300,000 people participated. (Democracy Now; Hoy, Chicago, May 2) Several marchers told reporters that anger over an April 24 raid in the Little Village neighborhood [see INB, April 28] motivated them to march. Morning feeder marches set off from the predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen and the traditionally Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park. (Chicago Tribune, May 1)

The Humboldt Park feeder march left from the Adalberto United Methodist Church, where Mexican immigrant Elvira Arellano has been in sanctuary since last August, resisting deportation and separation from her US-born son. As she broke a 25-day hunger-strike on May 1, Arellano stood at the window of the church with a microphone and led the crowd of 50 or so marchers in a prayer before they started off. The feeder marches joined other groups gathering in Union Park; from there, demonstrators marched through the Loop and packed into Grant Park for the main 3 PM rally, where Chicago mayor Richard Daley addressed the crowd. The march tied up afternoon traffic in the city center. (Chicago Tribune, May 1; New American Media, May 3; EFE, May 1; Article by Leslie Radford, posted on Aztlan News Network, May 29)

Initially, the Centro Sin Fronteras and the March 10 Coalition, which disagreed over whether to support the STRIVE Act, had planned to organize two separate marches in Chicago, but after meeting in April, the two groups decided to unite in a single march. (Chicago Tribune, May 1; New America Media, May 3) The united march was supposed to end in Daley Plaza, in the heart of downtown, but a day before the march police decided to shift it to Grant Park, along the waterfront. Police said Daley Plaza was too small for the expected crowd. (CT, May 1; AP, May 2) Police reported that two people were arrested for painting graffiti. (Hoy, May 2)

Wisconsin: Tens of thousands of immigrants formed a march stretching more than a mile through downtown Milwaukee on May 1. The march started at the offices of Voces de la Frontera and culminated in a rally at Veterans’ Park on the Lake Michigan shore, where Ricardo Chavez, the brother of Cesar Chavez, urged persistence in the struggle for immigrant rights. Milwaukee police would not give an estimate of the crowd size, but Voces volunteers estimated that the number of demonstrators was close to last year’s total of around 65,000.

Many immigrants said their employers supported their participation in the march. The Wisconsin Restaurant Association urged its 7,000 members to support workers who wanted time off to attend the rally or otherwise recognize the cause, association president Ed Lump said. “We’re not encouraging a boycott or that people walk off the job,” Lump cautioned. “We’re encouraging employees to work with their employers to find meaningful ways to show their support.” (, Green Bay, May 1 from AP; Janesville Gazette, May 2 from AP; Marquette Tribune, May 2)

A rally at the state capitol in Madison drew about 500 people, according to local police. Alex Gillis, a spokesperson for the Immigrant Workers Union, said between 2,500 and 3,500 people took part in the day’s activities, which also included the sharing of music and food in Brittingham Park. (La Crosse Tribune, May 2, some from AP)

Organizers led some a convoy of some 60 demonstrators from the Plaza Azteca in Appleton to a rally in Green Bay. The event, called “Protest Convoy,” included cars and trucks painted with pro-USA signs as drivers circled downtown Green Bay blocks for about 20 minutes, honking their horns. (Appleton Post-Crescent, May 2, some from AP & Green Bay Press-Gazette) Another rally was held in Racine, near Milwaukee. (Janesville Gazette, May 2 from AP)

Minnesota: In Minneapolis, more than 2,000 people marched from Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue South to Powderhorn Park, stretching along three blocks. The group, about half Latino, included a large group of high school and college students, as well as many families and workers. Many Latino businesses closed their doors at that hour so their workers could attend the events. The march came in the wake of recent immigration raids in nearby Worthington and Willmar. A message on one of the many placards read: “You can’t deport all of us.” (Workday Minnesota, May 2; Star Tribune, Minneapolis, May 2)

Elsewhere in Minneapolis, about 100 people, most carrying wooden crosses representing people deported during immigration raids, gathered on the steps of the Basilica of St. Mary. From there they embarked on a several-block procession to Westminster Presbyterian Church. Outside Westminster, many participants took out cell phones and called the offices of Minnesota congressional members, asking them to approve immigration reforms.

Several hundred high school and college students left their classes to attend an afternoon rally at the state capitol in St. Paul or other events. The St. Paul School District reported that about 70 high school students skipped classes in connection with the rallies. In Minneapolis, about 90 students left Southwest High School at noon, said officials in that district. They said they didn’t have numbers for other schools in the district. (Star Tribune, May 2)

Michigan: In Detroit, thousands marched from Patton Park, in the heart of the city’s Mexican- American community, to Clark Park, led by a banner reading “Stop the Raids and Deportations.” Police estimated the crowd at 15,000. Organizers said some businesses shut down for the day and others made do with fewer employees so they could take part in the event. Only about 50 of the 450 students at the Cesar Chavez Academy in southwest Detroit attended class on May 1; others skipped to attend the rally. (Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, May 2) School officials said about 200 students from Detroit Public Schools left their schools to participate in the rally.

Detroit was the only city where this year’s May 1 demonstration far surpassed last year’s in size; in 2006, Detroit’s May 1 march drew about 700 people, according to news sources at the time. The Detroit Free Press claims this year’s march was smaller than a March 2006 rally in Detroit which police apparently say was attended by more than 50,000 people; at the time, the New York Times reported that 4,000 people attended the March 27 rally in Detroit. (Detroit Free Press, May 2)

Indiana: Some 7,000 to 8,000 people marched down Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis in a “Justice for Immigrants March” from St. Mary Catholic Church to Monument Circle. At least 20,000 people attended a similar demonstration in Indianapolis last year. (Indianapolis Star, AP, May 2)

Iowa: About 80 people attended an immigrant rights rally in Iowa City. Organizers said they had instead asked people to display US flags or call their lawmakers to call for immigration reform. (AP, May 2)

Kansas: A rally in Topeka drew 50 people. The Topeka Center for Peace and Justice was one of the participating groups. (Topeka Capital Journal, May 1)

Southwest & Rockies

Texas: In Austin, thousands took part in a May 1 rally at the state capitol building, organized by the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition. After an hour of speeches, music and cultural festivities, the crowd marched down Congress Avenue in the rain to Austin City Hall, where a theatrical performance focused on the harsh realities of immigrant life. (Daily Texan, May 2) Last year at least 8,500 people took part in May 1 actions in Austin. (Austin American-Statesman, May 2)

On May 1, about 100 people demonstrated for immigrant rights in downtown Houston. Last year on May 1, some 10,000 marched. (Houston Chronicle, May 2) About 300 to 400 people marched in Houston on April 28, while about 20 held a counter-protest. (AP, April 28)

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people marched through the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas on the evening of May 1. Demonstrators started off with a prayer at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, then marched past the office of Rep. Pete Sessions, who opposes legalizing undocumented immigrants. The march kicked off a three-day phone lobbying effort for legalization. (Dallas Morning News, May 2; New America Media, May 3)

In El Paso, some 150 people marched from the foot of the Paso del Norte Bridge to San Jacinto Plaza. The crowd included some 20 to 30 students from Austin High School. The Border Network for Human Rights, which helped organize last year’s May 1 events in El Paso, declined to participate this year; organizers apparently felt that May 1 events alienate Americans and are counterproductive. (El Paso Times, May 2)

A rally in McAllen, sponsored by La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), attracted between 1,200 and 1,500 people, said Juanita Valdez, director of LUPE’s South Texas chapter. Last year about 3,000 to 4,000 people took part, Valdez said. (The Monitor, McAllen, May 1)

In Corpus Christi, about 500 people marched from Sherrill Park along Shoreline Boulevard to the federal courthouse, then back to Sherrill Park for a closing rally. Organizacion Fuerza Comunitaria, an immigrants rights group, organized the event working with the League of United Latin American Citizens Council No. 1, the American G.I. Forum and several other groups, said group secretary Juany Martinez. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, May 2)

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people marched through downtown San Antonio from Milam Park to Travis Park. Che Lopez from the Southwest Workers Union put attendance at 7,000 to 10,000. Rough estimates from police officers stationed along the route ranged from several hundred to 1,000. Planned walkouts by dozens of high school students across the city apparently never materialized. Chief William McManus said organizers didn’t obtain the necessary march permit, but he allowed them to take to the streets because he didn’t think they would stir up any trouble. Last year’s march drew about drew about 18,000. (San Antonio Express-News, May 2)

About 100 demonstrators marched through downtown Brownsville from Dean Porter Park to the Jacob Brown Auditorium. (Brownsville Herald, May 2)

New Mexico: Music, speeches and a free dinner drew about 400 people to a downtown park in Santa Fe. At least 1,200 people gathered at a park in Albuquerque. And in Clovis, more than 100 people dressed in white marched carrying colorful signs. (AP, May 2)

Arizona: About 15,000 to 20,000 people marched 2.5 miles in nearly triple-digit heat to the state capitol in Phoenix, waving signs that read “Stop the roundups” and “The sleeping giant woke up forever.” A few dozen counter-protesters turned out. In Tucson, police said up to 2,500 pro-immigrant demonstrators marched to the federal courthouse and then to a park in the downtown area. One man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for throwing a water bottle at counter-demonstrators. (Douglas Dispatch, May 2 from AP)

Nevada: About 4,500 people rallied outside the US Courthouse in Las Vegas, police on the scene told reporters. Many were waving American flags and signs. About a dozen people held a counter- protest across the street. Last year on May 1, some 7,000 people marched in Las Vegas. (AP, May 1) This year’s protest began with kids walking out of as many as a dozen schools, and marching for four hours to Jaycee Park. (, May 2)

In Reno, about 2,000 people marched from Miguel Ribera Park into downtown—a 90-minute trek in the midday sun—carrying US flags and signs and banners calling for “Full rights for all immigrants.” The crowd included many children, and parents pushing strollers and carrying infants. Participants were led in a rendition of “God Bless America” after reaching the front of the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Building. On May 1 last year, about 7,000 people took part in an evening march in Reno. (Reno Gazette-Journal, May 2)

Colorado: Thousands of people marched through downtown Denver, capping the demonstration by lifting their cell phones in the air and calling Colorado’s US senators. The crowd grew after they left a park near downtown and marched past the state capitol on the way to a rally at another park. Police estimated the crowd at 2,000; organizers said the number was more like 10,000. Last year, 75,000 marched in Denver, according to police. (AP, May 4; New York Times, May 2)

Idaho: In Boise on April 30, about 500 people marched to Julia Davis Park. (Capital Press, May 2)

Pacific Coast & Northwest

California: More than 100,000 immigrants and advocates took part in two separate demonstrations in Los Angeles on May 1. In the morning, the March 25 Coalition led demonstrators from the intersection of Broadway and Olympic to a rally in front of City Hall. By the time the marchers reached City Hall, the crowd had grown to an estimated 25,000. According to the Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights, another 60,000 people led by Cardinal Roger Mahoney and the Multiethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network (MIWON) marched from Vermont Ave and 3rd St to Macarthur Park. The Los Angeles Times reported the size of the second march as 10,000. (LAT, May 2; Post on Bay Area Indymedia by Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights, May 3) Among the marchers were hundreds of students who ignored pleas from school administrators and left Los Angeles-area campuses to take part in the events. School district officials said the largest group came from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, where about 150 students ditched classes. (LAT, May 2) By midday, 640 students had walked out of 12 schools, said LA Unified School District spokesperson Monica Carazo. Last year more than 51,000 students walked out of class. (AP, May 2)

At both rallies in LA, several counter-protesters gathered. The LA Police Department deployed hundreds of officers on foot, horseback, bicycles, motorcycles and cars along both march routes; helicopters flew overhead. Sgt. Lisa Turvey said the extra policing would cost about $300,000, the same as last year. (LAT, May 2)

At 5:30 PM, as the MIWON rally and festival in MacArthur Park was starting, some 600 riot police agents stormed the park, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd. A witness said the chaos began after one person threw something at the agents. Cops pushed through the park, indiscriminately shoving and beating people in their wake and forcing demonstrators to disperse. National Lawyers Guild observer Sanjukta Paul was beaten repeatedly, including a blow to the kidneys, as she attempted to separate the police from the crowd. Police also attacked members of the press who were covering the event, including a local Fox news team. Reporters were hit with batons, pushed to the ground, shot at with rubber bullets, and their camera and recording equipment damaged. Video footage of the police attack, including an angry report by the local Fox anchor, was distributed widely on, the free internet video site. (LA Daily News, May 5; Article by Leslie Radford posted, May 2 on LA Indymedia)

On May 6, LAPD Chief William Bratton said that up to 60 members of the Metropolitan Division’s B Platoon—the elite squad that stormed the park—have been taken off the street. Bratton said he spent the weekend viewing video of the MacArthur Park incident and he said LAPD failures were widespread, and that officers from the top on down were to blame. “I’m not going to defend the indefensible,” Bratton told journalists during a meeting at a television studio in Hollywood. “Things were done that shouldn’t have been done.” Cops fired 148 rubber bullets at the rally. (AP, May 6)

In San Diego, an afternoon march from San Diego City College to Pantoja Park drew several hundred participants, and about 1,500 people took part in an evening march that started at Chicano Park, according to police estimates. Jack Brandais, a spokesperson for the school district, said about 45 students walked out of Morse High School and 75 to 100 more out of Hoover High School. A smaller rally took place in nearby Vista. (San Diego Union Tribune, May 2) About 20 members of the San Diego Minutemen staged a counter-demonstration outside the federal courthouse. (NBC San Diego, May 1, some from AP)

About 1,500 people marched in Santa Ana. (Orange County Register, May 2) Late in the afternoon, more than 100 people, mainly youth, marched through Pomona. (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Ontario, CA, May 1) In San Bernardino, about 150 to 200 students marched from Arroyo Valley High School to an early afternoon rally at San Bernardino City Hall. (San Bernardino County Sun, May 2)

In San Francisco, thousands of people gathered in Dolores Park before marching to the Civic Center. Major streets—Valencia and Market—were closed for a procession that stretched along four blocks. (San Jose Mercury News, May 2) Inside the Muni underground station at Civic Center, security guards were demanding proof of payment—a rare moved that seemed to target Latino families headed to the march. When activists Lisa Gray-Garcia and Angel Garcia asked the security guard for directions, they were asked for their ID and given a citation for resisting arrest. (, May 2)

About 6,000 people marched in downtown Oakland along International Boulevard from 100th Avenue to City Hall. (San Jose Mercury News, May 2) Anti-immigrant protesters meanwhile held a series of May 1 counter-demonstrations in East Bay towns: Fremont (where 13 people attended), Palo Alto, Pleasanton and Santa Rosa. A counter-rally had been planned for Hayward, but no one showed up. (The Argus, May 2)

Some 12,000 people, including hundreds of school-age children, marched in San Jose on the afternoon of May 1. Last year’s May 1 march in San Jose drew some 125,000 people. This year’s march was timed to avoid conflicts with school hours, but 120 students from Academica Calmecac Charter School in East San Jose left campus early with permission from staff and escorted by a few teachers. The kids held their own makeshift rally at City Hall, hours before the main march. (San Jose Mercury News, May 2) Nearly 1,000 people rallied in San Jose on Apr. 29. Another 200 people marched on April 29 in the tiny agricultural town of Mendota. (AP, April 30)

In Santa Cruz, hundreds of students and workers rallied at Baytree Plaza on the University of California-Santa Cruz campus before marching to downtown, where they were joined by families from the Beach Flats. The demonstrators then marched back to end the mobilization at the Beach Flats. (Santa Cruz Indymedia, May 3) Thousands of families marched through the streets of Watsonville and Pajaro, according to Santa Cruz Indymedia. The Santa Cruz Sentinel said the crowd was about 2,000 at the height of the march. The Sentinel reported that some 150 students from Pajaro Valley High School and about 35 to 50 students from Watsonville High School also held an 11am rally at City Plaza. According to Indymedia, about 500 students walked out of Pajaro Valley High School. The march was organized by MigraWatch Network, which came together last September following raids in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Hollister on Sept. 7-8. (Santa Cruz Indymedia, May 4; Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2) Several thousand people gathered on May 1 in front of St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church before marching through East Salinas. According to police estimates, about 3,000 people took part. The local march was sponsored by the Alianza Primero de Mayo (First of May Alliance). (Monterey Herald, May 2; Salinas Californian, May 2)

Several thousand people gathered on May 1 at the capitol in Sacramento. (AP, May 2) In Davis, about 350 people protested, and activists reportedly staged a civil disobedience action blocking Freeborn Hall, where the Department of Homeland Security hosted a public meeting to receive comments on a proposed rule governing drivers license identification. There were 25 arrests. (Central Valley Indymedia, May 1, 2; Sacramento Bee, May 2)

About 1,000 people marched through downtown Stockton on the morning of May 1, according to police estimates. Event organizers said 1,500 to 2,000 people participated. The march began at 10:30am at the Mexican Community Center on Lincoln Street and ended three hours later after a rally at De Carli Square. (Stockton Record, May 2) In Modesto, about 3,000 people marched from south Modesto to the downtown government center. (ABC News 10, May 1) In Fresno, between 3,000 and 5,000 people marched from a “free speech” site at the Fulton Mall to the downtown federal building. Last year around 20,000 people marched and rallied on May 1 in front of Fresno’s city hall. (Central Valley Indymedia, May 1, 2)

In San Rafael, hundreds of immigrants and their supporters gathered on May 1, including high school students angry over recent immigration raids and the Iraq war. (SJMN, May 2) In St. Helena, in the Napa Valley, local immigrant rights groups organized a march for April 28, the Saturday before May 1. The march started at Crane Park and swelled to about 100 people by the time it ended at Lyman Park. Last year an estimated 3,000 people walked from Crane Park to Lyman Park. (Napa Valley Register, May 2; St. Helena Star, May 3) Protests were also reportedly held in Mountain View, Riverside, Berkeley, Santa Rosa, Madera, Martinez and other California towns. The ILWU reportedly stopped work in six west coast ports. (Monterey Herald, May 2; Central Valley Indymedia, May 1; Post on Bay Area Indymedia by Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights, May 3)

Oregon: About 4,000 people marched through Portland on the evening of May 1. Earlier in the day, about 2,000 people rallied at the capitol in Salem, according to police estimates. Salem organizers told Capital Press they estimated the crowd there at about 6,000. (Capital Press, May 2) In Eugene, about 30 people rallied at the Blair Boulevard office of Community Alliance of Lane County in the morning to send off a handful of local activists to join the demonstration in Salem. Locally organized by CAUSA, an immigrant rights coalition, the group carried signs in opposition to state legislation that would narrow the list of documents applicants can use to prove their identity when applying for an Oregon driver’s license. (Register-Guard, Eugene, May 2)

Washington: About 5,000 people marched in Seattle on May 1 from Seattle Center to Westlake Park. The demonstration was organized mainly by El Comite Pro-Amnistia General y Justica Social, a non-profit organization composed mostly of local social, labor and religious groups. Last year, as many as 30,000 people marched in Seattle. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Times, May 2)

About 4,000 demonstrated in Yakima on May 1. (Capital Press, May 2) Police estimated the crowd at 3,000. Last year, police pegged the crowd at 3,000 to 5,000 while organizers said it was 10,000. This year marchers passed a group of 75 to 80 counterdemonstrators, including representatives of the Minutemen. (Yakima Herald-Republic, May 2)

More than 400 people marched in Mount Vernon and rallied in front of the Skagit County Courthouse. Organic livestock farmer George Vojkovich, co-owner of Skagit River Ranch, marched with three of his workers, Diego, Victor and Jesus Bernal. “I’m here to show my respect for them,” he said of the three brothers. “They came here just like my family, not speaking English and looking for work. They’re the best workers I’ve ever had.” (Capital Press, May 2)

About 250 people marched through Bellingham to the Whatcom County Courthouse, then marched back to Cornwall Park for a potluck fiesta. The event, which started at noon, was sponsored by Community to Community Development, the Whatcom County Human Rights Task Force and Whatcom County Democrats. (Bellingham Herald, May 2; Capital Press, May 2)

From Immigration News Briefs, April 28

See our last post on the immigration crackdown. See also our report on last year’s mobilizations, and our special report on the “Si Se Puede Revolution.”

  1. Poetic irony?
    When Antonio Villaraigosa’s police were attacking Salvadoran immigrants in MacArthur Park, he was in San Salvador to offer the Central American republic the LAPD’s expertise in crime-fighting. From Reuters, May 2:

    SAN SALVADOR — Los Angeles will work with El Salvador to help combat the violent Central American crime gangs that also terrorize the California city, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on Wednesday.

    Villaraigosa, a Latino activist turned politician, said on a visit to El Salvador the accord included an exchange training program for Los Angeles and El Salvador police and policies to help El Salvador reinsert former gang members into society.

    Many Los Angeles gangs trace their roots to Central America. The civil wars of the 1980s and 1990s in the region prompted a flow of migrants to the United States and the rise in Los Angeles of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, which sought to protect early Salvadoran immigrants.

    The gang now has an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 members in the United States and tens of thousands in Central America, many of whom are returning migrants.

    Central American governments have waged a war against the gangs, often seizing anyone with gang-like tattoos in the street to the dismay of human rights groups.

    “In Los Angeles, we know you can’t just use a strong arm, you have to also invest in young people, give them alternatives to violence and a gang life,” Villaraigosa said at a news conference with Salvadoran President Tony Saca.

    In February, police chiefs from El Salvador and other Central American nations met in Los Angeles for a conference on fighting cross-border gangs that are behind brutal murders and drug and weapons smuggling.

    El Salvador, with a population of 6.8 million, had an average of 10 murders a day in 2006, about 70 percent of which were committed by gang members, the FBI reported in February.

    Los Angeles, dubbed the gang capital of the United States, is home to more than 400 gangs that were blamed for more than half the city’s 478 murders last year, and gang violence surged 14 percent last year, according to the FBI.

    See our last posts on El Salvador and Central America.

  2. Central America May Day marches
    Hundreds of thousands of Honduran workers, campesinos, teachers, students and others marched in six cities around the country on May 1 to mark International Workers’ Day. Unions that normally divide along political lines marched together under the slogan “united against savage capitalism.” Marchers demanded that the Honduran government combat poverty and crime and reduce the 30% unemployment rate. They carried signs denouncing the US-backed Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) and burned US president George W. Bush and Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in effigy. The marches also commemorated the 53rd anniversary of a 1954 strike against the US-based Chiquita Brands and Standard Fruit. (Diario La Prensa, Tegucigalpa, May 1)

    Relatively small May Day marches in Nicaragua were divided along party lines. Former presidential candidate for the Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS) Edmundo Jarquin led a march starting from Managua’s Colonia Tenderi with least 1,000 workers, including laid-off teachers and other public employees demanding jobs, raises and better working conditions from the government. Meanwhile more than 1,500 members of the National Workers Front (FNT) marched to the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, where they heard a speech from President Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Labor leader Roger Guevara said FNT members were warned to march or risk being laid off. (El Nuevo Diario, Managua, May 1)

    In El Salvador, various social organizations organized marches on May 1 in solidarity with pro-immigrant marches being held in the US that day. (Diario Colatino, San Salvador, May 1)

    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 13

    See our last posts on Nicaragua and Honduras.