Long Beach Marchers Mark May Day March From MacArthur Park To City Hall...But Unlike L.A. No LB Elected Officials Visible

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(May 3, 2017, 12:55 p.m.) -- About two hundred people, many of whom were youth of color, heard speeches, marched from MacArthur Park to City Hall and heard more speeches marking May Day (Monday May 1) and urged that Long Beach become a "sanctuary city." A number of participants indicated that their concerns extend to policies beyond immigration.

Photo by Barry Saks

In contrast to L.A.'s May Day event, no local Long Beach elected officials were visible. A picnic table at the park served as a stage for speakers at the event, emceed by Alex Montances from the Filipino Migrant Center and Maria Lopez from Housing Long Beach.

Alex Montances. Photo by Barry Saks

Maria Lopez. Photo by Barry Saks

The program opened with a chant: "Ain't [sic] no power like the power of the people cuz [sic] the power of the people don't stop. Say what!" Mr. Montances and Ms. Lopez gave a brief history of May Day and described the local May Day Coalition as "pro-immigrant, pro-worker, pro-human rights, pro-social justice and pro-Black Lives Matter," which drew audience cheers.

Ms. Lopez said this year's theme was "sanctuary for all" and Mr. Montances was more specific about what he means: "We demand a sanctuary city policy -- for the police officers not to cooperate, not to use funding or resources for deportation and immigration enforcement. They (the police) shouldn’t be sharing people’s sensitive information about people’s immigration status (with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."



Among other speakers:

  • Elisa Gomez, from the Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization, speaking in Spanish with English translation, described the deportation and subsequent death of her brother-in-law. She said local city representatives have been silent on making Long Beach a sanctuary city and concluded her remarks by saying, "The city needs to protect us, but I say to ICE we are also observing you and your actions."

  • Marabel Cruz of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition spoke in English and Spanish. She said she came to this country when she was two years-old and echoed the earlier statements for the need for Long Beach to become a sanctuary city.

  • Gabrielle Sibal of Gabriela Los Angeles, who described her group as a "Filipina anti-imperialist organization," read a spoken-word poem she authored on the need for international solidarity.

    Gabrielle Sibal. Photo by Barry Saks

  • Nereyda Soto of Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community said she works in the Long Beach hotel industry and is the daughter of Salvadoran refugee. She said, "My coworkers and I have been fighting for Claudia’s Law for two years...for a policy to protect us from sexual harassment in our workplace and overbearing workloads".and we still have not heard anything from (the Long Beach City) Council. Shame."

    Photo by Barry Saks

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Three other chants heard at the program were "Get up, get down. There’s a people's movement in this town"; "I believe that we will win" and "Si se puede" (Yes we can), which was the motto of the United Farm Workers.

When marchers reached City Hall, a second program of speeches began, which Montances and Lopez again emceed.

  • George Funmaker, who was identified himself as being from Red Earth Defense and previously organized against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Funmaker pointed out to the crowd they were standing on Tongva land and said as indigenous people national borders aren't recognized. Funmaker urged the crowd to move its money from banks funding the oil pipelines (said to include Wells Fargo and Bank of America) to local credit unions.

  • Liz Waite, from Housing Long Beach, spoke. Waite said, "Housing is a human right...We are the only city on the West Coast without renter protections."

    Liz Waite. Photo by Barry Saks

  • Bruce Jefferson, from the Warehouse Worker Resource Center said he works at Cal Cartage through a temp agency. He said the Warehouse Worker Resource Center was organizing because of low paid, the lack of respect, no health care, favoritism and racial discrimination.

  • Sergio Gonzales said he's been a truck driver for seven years and that he and the other drivers have been misclassified as owning their business instead of as employees.

  • Naida Tushnet, from the Long Beach Area Peace Network
  • was the final speaker, and said "What we are fighting for did not begin with Trump's election...Let me tell you that the war budget is part of our problem and we need make sure we argue for a peace budget that takes care of everyone."



While marching to Long Beach City Hall, chants included: "When workers' rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back. When immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back"; "We are people, we are not illegal"; "From Palestine to Mexico, all these walls have got to go"; "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all"; "Sanctuary, not deportation"; "Everywhere we go people want to know who we are. So we tell them. We are the workers, the mighty, mighty workers"; "Black lives they matter here" and "Move ICE, get out of the way, get out of the way, get out of the way."

Marchers included Stephanie Deschams, 29, who said she took part to support the rights of the immigrant community and hoped Long Beach would become a sanctuary city. Deschams, who said she got certificates in nursing and phlebotomy from Long Beach City College, pointed out Donald Trump's grandfather had immigrated from Germany and Ivanka Trump had immigrated from Slovenia. She said, "We (should) stand united. If one person goes down, we all go done."

Another marcher was Robert Jay, 43, who said he lives in Long Beach, works part-time in long shore and is a member of Local 13 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Jay said, "May 1st is important to me...(It) is the original Labor Day, which is a sign of solidarity because every society the working-class is always in the majority."

Robert Jay. Photo by Barry Saks

In addition to trade unionist Jay, contingents of hotel workers, teamsters and teachers also marched.

According to the website for the May Day Long Beach, the event was "presented" by Anakbayan Long Beach, Black Lives Matter Long Beach, California Faculty Association, Clergy Laity United for Economic Justice, Coalition for Latino Advancement at Long Beach City College, DAYS, Filipino Migrant Center, Gabriela Los Angeles, Greater Interfaith Community Organization, Justice for Port Truck Drivers Campaign, LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy), LiBRE (Long Beach Residents Empowered), Little Brown Church, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs & a Healthy Community, Long Beach G.R.R.R.L. Collective, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Palestinian Youth Movement, Semillas de Esperanza (seeds of hope) and Stop Fracking Long Beach.
Photo by Barry Saks


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