[Marxism] Saturday's immigrants rights march in Los Angeles

thomas muntzer immune_from_demoralization at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 26 22:35:47 MST 2006


Nice report Walter. I'd add that the Spanish language
TV and radio stations played a huge role in promoting
this.  El Piolin and El Cucuy de la Manana - the most
popular Spanish language pop radio hosts, urged people
to go.  I saw stuff on TV about it announcing the day
and time.  Basically a decisive section of the Latino
bourgeoisie and political establishment is supporting
this movement which has both helped to give it its
massive character and imposes limitations.  Because
these politicians and newspapers and bureaucracies
want mass marches, but only in order to secure
legislative and electoral victories that they see as
the route towards improving the status of Latinos. 
They certainly don't want these things to turn into
militnat struggles that alienate the liberal
establishment.

It may be that the movement will pass through this
stage and move on to more radical stages provided that
more radical forces can step up to the plate.  The
radicals in Los Angeles at every moment should be
saying: bring the movement into the neighborhoods,
workplaces and schools, keep the movement in the
streets, the politicians can tail the movement and
adopt its demands, but they cannot lead it, they have
separate interests.  Build committees in every
neighborhood, high school and workplace,force every
union to put organizing resources into opposing
attacks on immigrants, more mass mobilizations, etc. 
Those of us with links to the immigrant proletariat
need to be thinking about building immigrants defense
committees in the neighborhoods, high schools,
workplaces where we have connections - there seems to
be a mood for this that we need to jump on before the
feeling fades.

I'd also add that I think these marches above all else
indicate there is a substantial shift in the mood
going on all over working class North America. 
Although we should be cautious in saying this we could
be seeing the beginning of the real fightback we've
been waiting for. If this movement grows and takes on
militancy, it will infect other sections of the
working class, it is very dangerous for the
bourgeoisie.  There is a lot of anger right now and
the sent ath doing something about things is possible
could be contagious if it continues to grow.

Anyways, below is a section of a report I wrote that I
think complements Walter's:

---
This is a rough but long email about the march we went
to today [yesterday, I'm forwarding this from another
list!].  This
was the biggest march of our lives,
composed 99% by the same section of the working class
we have been trying to organize in the Fashion
District!  The *cops* report 500,000.  Organizers say
more than a million.  Regardless, numbers don't do
justice to the importance of the demonstration.  The
extreme left was a miniscule presence.  The "mass"
organizations: unions, immigrant rights centers and
Latino advocacy groups who generally mobilize working
class contingents to amnesty demonstrations and
anti-war marches were barely distinguishable from the
surrounding crowds.  It was as though the unorganized
mass of the immigrant proletariat had flooded past any
organizational structures and into the length and
breadth of downtown to make its statement against
anti-immigrant attacks of the politicians.

The march was supposed to go down Broadway from an
area near the Fashion District up to City Hall.  In
fact, an hour before the march had even officially
begun at the large intersection at Olympic, the crowd
extended across a number of city blocks and halfway
through the marching area.  Those taking the subway
had to wait for three or four trains full of people to
leave before they could get on.  Parking was crazy -
we got there an hour and fifteen minutes before the
stated start time and still had to resort to jamming a
parking meter with paper to get it to read "fail" -
all the lots were full.  The marchers didn't fit on
Broadway, it took the march flooding into the two
broad flanking streets to allow the hundreds of
thousands of people to move towards City Hall.  The
demonstration bottlenecked when the entire massive
area in front of City Hall was full of people.
Thousands of people marched back on sidestreets,
preparing to go home, but they were replaced of tens
of thousands more who were still arriving.  I did the
march twice from start to finish in dense crowds of
hundreds of thousands, all while tens of thousands
were leaving and being replaced by fresh arriving
waves.

Standing on top of a bus bench my friend Tiffany and I
watched as tens of thousands of people went by.  Waves
of cheers rippled through the crowd.  Chants competed
with one another led by random people with megaphones
or even stolen orange cones.  There was an even mix of
Mexican and American flags, as well as a sprinkling of
Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Korean flags.  Signs were
homemade and scrawled in English or Spanish.  Others
were printed: "Bush: Why do you hate us?"  "Immigrants
made America, period!" Nationalist signs: "The border
crossed us!"  Internationalist signs: "The workers
struggle knows no borders."  And there was a large
hand painted banner I saw saying "A sleeping giant has
awoken."

Some sections of the crowd were fiercely nationalist
and looked at me like "what are you doing here?"  Some
high school aged kids even taunted me, in their best
Bill and Ted voice, "Sup, bro?"  But generally there
was an intense feeling of solidarity, a warmth I have
rarely felt at left demonstrations.  Tiffany and I led
chants from our perch on the bus bench for an hour,
saying "Si se puede [we can do it]," "Bush, escucha,
estamos en la lucha [bush listen we're in the
struggle]" - people generally went crazy seeing a
black woman and a white man screaming and pumping
their fists in the air to Spanish chants, and a guy
came up and put a Mexican flag in my hand to the great
approval of the crowd.  Another woman thanked me quite
sincerely and gave me a bottle of water.

Most people I talked to had never been to a march
before in the United States.  Hundreds of women pushed
strollers flanked by husbands and relatives.  Friends
of comrades who we thought would never become
political came to this march.  ______, a women we met
through the campaign were involved in at an elementary
school and who had never been political before, made
signs with her kids and marched.  One of the routes
leading away from the march led demonstrators to the
top of a hill, from which people looked down in one
direction and saw people as far as they could see, and
down another street full of hundreds of thousands.  I
heard person after person gasp in amazement -hundreds
of thousands of poor immigrant working class people
together to make a political statement- they were
seeing their own power.

The leaders of the march failed to exert any real
leadership over it.  They set up a platform and sound
system on the steps of City Hall and the state
senators and organizational representatives tried to
address the workers.  But from my place on the hill in
front of City Hall I could see at least 5 or 6 other
spontaneous rallies happening off in the distance,
with chants directed by megaphone.  Nobody could make
out what the official speakers were saying or even
particularly cared.  The official rally was a joke,
like throwing a boulder in a river while the water
surged past it.
.... [remaining section cut]

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