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1500 march May 1 in Minneapolis for immigrant and worker rights

By staff |
May 3, 2012
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Speaker at May 1 immigrant rights protest
Speaker at May 1 immigrant rights protest (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Supporters of Carlos Montes march May 1
Supporters of Carlos Montes march May 1

Minneapolis, MN - More than 1500 people marched on Lake Street for immigrant and workers rights here on May 1, International Workers Day. Organized by the May 1st Coalition and initiated by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc), the march focused on legalization for undocumented immigrants, ending deportations and support for workers and their unions. The march had the support of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), most immigrant rights groups in the city and many Latino student groups from nearby colleges and high schools.

The march started at 3:30 p.m. at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. Cleaning workers from the Center for Workers United in Struggle (CTUL) spoke across the street from the local K Mart to denounce the exploitation of immigrant workers that clean their stores. Rafael Morataya of SEIU Local 26 spoke when the march passed by Wells Fargo bank, to denounce the bank’s support for corporations that exploit immigrants, like Corrections Corporation of America, which builds private prisons and immigrant detention facilities while lobbying for harsher anti-immigrant laws to fill those jails.

A member of Mujeres en Liderazgo (Women in Leadership) spoke out for their campaign for a Minneapolis municipal ID that would be accessible for immigrants, as well as for their campaign for the right of immigrants to get a driver’s license.

Rap artist Maria Isa did two songs at the rally at Powderhorn Park at the end of the march, energizing the crowd and expressing her support for the immigrant rights and anti-racist struggle. Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria read a poem about the immigrant struggle. Emilia Avalos and other immigrant youth spoke about their struggle for access to education.

There were also speakers from other immigrant communities in Minnesota, like Sadik Warfa who spoke from the Somali immigrant community and Azannia Tripp of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. Christian Ucles of Minnesotans United for All Families spoke in support of marriage equality and of the importance to unite against the right-wing attacks against LGBTQ people and against immigrants.

Thistle Parker Hartog from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about Carlos Montes, whose trial starts May 15 in Los Angeles on trumped up charges and about the case of Joe Callahan, an anti-war and immigrant rights activist in Minnesota accused of ‘human trafficking’ for supposedly helping two Salvadoran immigrants cross into Canada to seek asylum.

Pangea World Theater did a brief performance and Carlos Lombi played music.

Mel Reeves of Occupy the Hood spoke, as did Alejandra Cruz, a well-known immigrant youth leader in Minnesota. She spoke about her struggle fighting against her home’s foreclosure. Her family is in danger of imminent eviction and they are seeking support to defend their home from the bank.

Javier Morillio, President of SEIU Local 26, spoke about current union struggles and representatives of the unions that endorsed the march took the stage together to be recognized by the crowd for supporting the International Workers Day march. Cecilia Martinez of CEED spoke about the struggle for climate justice.

Ana of MIRAc spoke about the need for immigrant workers and their supporters to continue the struggle for legalization for all, an end to deportations and an end to all racist anti-immigrant laws.