Seen, Heard At LB's 2018 May Day March & Rally

by Barry Saks
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(May 5, 2018, 3:55 p.m.) -- About 150 people, including many youth of color, marched on Tuesday, May 1 from the north end of Caesar Chavez Park to Long Beach City Hall to celebrate May Day and to highlight a range of issues from protecting the local wetlands from oil drilling to protecting the rights of workers, immigrants and tenants.

Photo by Barry Saks

The May Day Long Beach Coalition, which describes itself on its website as "a coalition of organizations united for workers' rights, immigrant rights, tenant rights, and black & (sic) brown unity," organized the march and the rallies at each end of the march.

Photo by Barry Saks

[Scroll down for further.]

One of the first speakers at the park was George Funmaker, who describes himself as a co-founder Red Earth Defense.

Funmaker, who was introduced as an indigenous activist, began his remarks by acknowledging those present were on land the Tongva people once inhabited. He said as an indigenous activist, his focus is on the land.

He added, "When we talk about justice and equality we first have to tell the true story, the true history of this country, what it was built on, on genocide and oppression and greed."

Photo by Barry Saks



Another speaker at the park was Jonaya Chadwick, who spoke of the need for renterís rights. Chadwick, identified as being with Housing Long Beach, said she's lived in the same Long Beach location for 19 years with her disabled mother who lives on a fixed income of about $900 each month. Chadwick said, "(D)ue to no rent control or just-cause eviction in Long Beach, me and my mom will be displaced sooner or later."


Local trade union activist, Nerexda Soto spoke for UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, as she did last year. However, this year she also emceed and reminded the audience that in September 2017, a Long Beach City Council majority voted down a proposal for panic buttons for hotel workers. In response, she said the union and its supporters have launched a ballot-initiative campaign and are collecting signatures. Soto said, "If anybody knows UNITE HERE and our coalition, we donít give up...We canít trust the City Council and the Mayor, so we're doing it ourselves."

No elected officials spoke at the event.



Xenia Arriola, representing Gabriela Los Angeles, followed Soto. and divided her time, between reading aloud a statement and then performing her poem. Arriola, in part, said, "I am a member of Gabriela Los Angeles. We are grassroots Filipino womenís organization and we have members here in Long Beach...Los Angeles...We also have 200 chapters all over the world. We fight for the rights and liberation of the Filipino people here in the United States and in the Philippines. As Gabriela, we want to share about the conditions that migrant-working woman face here and abroad. Many Filipino migrant workers are sent to places where they are overworked, underpaid and abused." Arriola then performed her spoken-word poem.

According to the Gabriela-USA website, the term, Gabriela, has two origins: first, the initials stand for "General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Education, Leadership, and Action" and second, Gabriela is "named in honor of Gabriela Silang, the first Filipino woman to lead a revolt against the Spanish colonization of the Philippines."


After Arriola spoke and performed, the crowd marched to Long Beach City Hall and chanted: "No justice, no peace, no racist police;" "No Trump, No KKK, No racist USA;" "Get up, get down, thereís a peopleís movement in this town;" "From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go;" "Black lives, they matter here;" "Education, not deportation;" "Move ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), get out of the way, get out of the way;" "If we donít get no justice, you don't get no peace;" "The people united, will never be divided;" "No wall, no fear, immigrants are welcome here;" and "One struggle, one fight, housing is a human right."

On arrival, a second rally was held outside City Hall, where there were more speeches and entertainment.

The May Day Coalition website ("about page") says May Day Long Beach is presented by:

Anakbayan Long Beach, Act Now to Stop War and Racism (ANSWER Coalition), Black Lives Matter Long Beach, California Faculty Association, Clergy Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Coalition for Latino Advancement at LBCC, DAYS, Filipino Migrant Center, Gabriela Los Angeles, Greater Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), Housing Long Beach, 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, Stop Fracking Long Beach

Photo by Barry Saks

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