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1500 rally and march in Chicago on May Day

By Joe Iosbaker |
May 1, 2021
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Jazmine Salas of the Chicago Alliance speaking at May Day rally.
Jazmine Salas of the Chicago Alliance speaking at May Day rally. (Paul Goyette)

Chicago, IL - The movements for immigrant rights, against police crimes, and the labor movement of essential workers united today to mark May 1, International Workers Day in Chicago. Banners read “Legalization for all,” “Stop police crimes” and “Justice for essential workers.”

The mobilization represented the unity reached between the major immigrant rights group the state, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). ICIRR’s two legislative priorities are legalization for all and a pathway to citizenship at the federal level, and community empowerment to hold the Chicago police accountable.

Speaking for CAARPR, co-chair Jazmine Salas said, “The Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance will put us on a path to community control of the police – no more murders like those of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez.” Both were killed by CPD in late March. Adam Toledo was 13 years old and had his hands in the air when he was shot; Anthony Alvarez was shot in the back while running away from the police.

Essential workers and their unions, particularly SEIU Locals 73 and Health Care Illinois/Indiana also joined the rally. HCII Vice President Jaquie Algee explained about the 1886 nationwide strike for the eight-hour day, organized mainly from Chicago, in honor of which May 1, is celebrated around the world as International Workers Day. She said, “It’s a disgrace that over 100 years later we’re still fighting for the same things: respect on the job and decent wages.”

The rally at Union Park was capped by remarks by Congressman Chuy Garcia, who pledged to support the PRO Act legislation in support of labor organizing; legalization for all, including removal of exclusionary bars; and a pathway to citizenship to be included in the budget reconciliation. “It’s high time to stop criminalizing immigration and desperation, and to end an immigration system entangled with the flawed criminal justice system. It’s no accident that the same communities that are over-policed due to racist policing and racial bias are suffering at the hands of immigration enforcement.”

Garcia then spoke about his legislation, the New Way Forward, which would end the mass criminalization and deportation pipeline.

After rallying in Union Park on Chicago’s West Side, they marched two-and-half miles to Federal Plaza in the Loop. A cultural program featuring youth performers was interspersed with speeches by Rev. Emma Lozano, her daughter Tanya Lozano, Frank Chapman of CAARPR, Oswaldo Gomez of ONE Northside and the Grassroots Alliance for Public Safety, and alderpersons Byron Sigcho Lopez and Carlos Ramirez Rosa, all of whom came together to help create the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance.

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