CSULA students marched from campus to Los Angeles City Hall on May Day
“Whose street? Our street!” student protesters shouted as they marched towards Mariachi Plaza from the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Two police vehicles chaperoned the students to keep them on the sidewalk, and other officers made sure every freeway exit in the student’s path was blocked.
On Monday, May 1, many grassroot organizations gathered in between the City Hall and the Los Angeles Police Department, including both deportation protesters and Trump supporters. A considerable group of Cal State LA students also marched from campus to Los Angeles City Hall through Boyle Heights. Many were protesting in solidarity with Claudia Rueda, a Cal State LA student whose mother was detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“I’m marching for Teresa specifically, who was detained. She’s the mother of one of our students. The march is also a part of the labor rights movement and immigrant movement,” said Kevin, Sociology major. The hashtag #FreeTeresa was commonly used on student protesters’ signs.
“I haven’t been going to school, I’ve been working on [her case]. We hired a lawyer, and hopefully we will get her out soon,” said Rueda, third year Latin American Studies major. “Today is a very big day for me, because [May Day March] is a way to come together, and fight for injustices that are going on, and destroying a lot of families.”
When the students reached Los Angeles City Hall, yellow tape and police officers separated the two groups of demonstrators. On one side, people held their Mexican flags high and chanted, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist U.S.A.!” Across the streets, signs with “Make America Great Again” and “TRUMP” were held at the same height and Trump supporters blasted the national anthem from their speaker.
The stage was set up in front of the City Hall with a large sign proclaiming “Resist” hung above the platform. Many speakers and performers have shared their thoughts, including Mayor Eric Garcetti himself. The audience raised their fist into the sky as the performer rapped on.
One of the demonstrators, Kevin, crossed the yellow tape from the Pro-Trump side, and attempted to have a conversation with the Anti-Trump group. Many protesters were calling him Nazi at first, based on where he just came from. However as the conversation went on, his intention for unity became clear. Kevin is an ESL adult school teacher.
“Everyday I see my students come to class, fearing, that ICE is going to come, and just snatch them,” Kevin told the University Times. “[The government] only wants people who can go directly into workforce, that excludes women, elderly, and other people who want to learn English, who want to participate in every single way like everybody else. Yet they have to be afraid, because of this administration, because there’s a border in between who they consider as Americans on one side, and who they consider as Americans on the other. And that needs to stop, now. That’s why we are here, that’s why I’m here.”
Kevin also strongly expressed that “the police is the problem, that they want us separated. That’s the mentality, because if we are divided, we can’t get things done, we can’t come together and say, ‘Look, we are not going to let this administration takes away our constitutional god-given right.’” For others, the police officers were preventing people from getting into fights.
Many people had strong feelings about both sides of the debate at the May Day march. However, some people felt neglected from both sides. Adam was driving Lyft around Downtown that day, he is a Native American from Montana. He stated, “I think it’s crazy, because right now the whole talk is about immigration, and the only people, in my view, that have a right to discuss anything about immigration are native, and indigenous people.”
Adam continued, “But I do understand that it is absolutely a disgrace, that our men and women who served in the military and protected this country, are placed on a waitlist when they come back to receive the medical attention they need, when someone can come to this country illegally and receive financial aid, medical, dental, whatever.” Adam didn’t vote for anyone this past election, he expressed that he believed in Bernie Sanders.
With new policies being passed and new plans being publicized, it is safe to conclude that the May Day march won’t be the last protest in the coming months. But one thing is for sure – more and more people will engage in political conversations and perhaps that will be the silver lining.