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Undocumented youth lead spirited May Day march in heart of Boyle Heights

By staff |
May 5, 2015
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May Day march in Boyle Heights.
May Day march in Boyle Heights. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Undocumented Chicano and Central American students from Roosevelt High School led a militant May 1 march of about 400 people here on International Workers’ Day. The march included members of MEChA, and families, parents, and teachers in Boyle Heights. Viewed by thousands of spectators, youth supported by neighborhood families chanted, “Students support education and immigrant rights.”

The main demands of the march were “Legalization for all” and support for DACA/DAPA – the deferred action plan for youth, parents and family. Another important demand was “Equality for the Mecxican, Chicano and Central American people”, a demand ignored by other events elsewhere in Los Angeles.

Rally speakers highlighted what they see as racist attack by Republican governors, who filed a lawsuit to stop the President Obama-ordered Deferred Action. The organizers called for an ongoing campaign to win deferred action for all and to expose the racist right-wing Republican attack against immigrants and poor and working people.

Demonstrators assembled in the heart to Boyle Heights, at Soto and First Streets, and then marched to Mariachi Plaza for a Sounds of Solidarity concert. The famous locally-raised Cuban/America rapper Mellow Man Ace led a concert of hip hop artists to support the Black and Brown unity and exposed police and ICE brutality against Black and Brown people.

Boyle Heights has a large number of undocumented families and a long history of protesting unjust immigration laws. In 1994, 150,000 marched from Five Points to Los Angeles city hall to protest then-Governor Pete Wilson’s push for Proposition 187, which would have criminalized undocumented immigrants. Proposition 187 was defeated.

The rally featured speakers, including Arlene Inouye, a Japanese-American, Treasurer of United Teachers of LA, (UTLA), whose mother attended Roosevelt High School. She voiced the UTLA commitment to fight for public education and immigrant rights.

Veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes, who helped organize the mach, stated, “It was great to be marching for our rights with undocumented youth and the families of Boyle Heights on May Day. We need equality and liberation and we are building a movement to achieve that.”

Other speakers included Lupe Torres, from Mexico, who was raised in LA and is now a local teacher and Chicana civil rights activists with Centro CSO. She spoke of the need to organize a grassroots campaign to fight back the racist attacks and build power. Maria Ocampo, of Dream Team LA, spoke of the lives of Dreamer students who work and fight for their education while struggling for DACA/DAPA and working. Valeria Moreno, a MEChA student from and Roosevelt High School spoke about the role of students in uniting the whole community and training a new generation of leaders. An undocumented mother member of Union de Vecinos spoke of the need to get “papeles” - papers or legal residency - so you can work and care for your family. Parishioners form Dolores Mission based communities also marched along with various union members.

Other marchers and supporters of the May Day event included United Teachers LA, Dream Team LA, Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, Boyle Heights Farmers Market, Centro CSO, Roosevelt High School MEChA, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Dolores Mission Church, Union de Vecinos, International Association of Machinists Local 311, the Bridge Program at Antioch University Los Angeles, Phillips and Urias LLP, Super Luisitos Tortas, and Al & Beas Restaurant.

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