Massive crowd gathers to celebrate workers’ immigrants’ rights

Chanting, “We want justice for our people,” waving signs and cheering, more than 1,000 people gathered peacefully in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood May 1 in honor of May Day and in support of immigrant rights.

A broad coalition of groups joined in the tenth annual observance of International Workers Day by Oakland Sin Fronteras, a labor organization that supports immigrant rights.

“Our purpose is to show the country we have organized to defend the rights of all,” said Tracy Nguyen, one of the organizers of the event.

“We are making a stand during the time of the Trump administration, which attacks immigrants, workers, people of color, LGBTQ people and Muslims,” Nguyen said.

While May 1 traditionally focuses on workers and workers’ rights, this year’s event clearly focused on immigrants.

“Many in our community are afraid now to go to school, to work,” Denise Solis of Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West told the crowd. “As immigrant women we face attacks against us, sexual battery, and we are afraid to report it to the police for fear of being reported to immigration (officials). This is not right.”

Maria Trujillo of SEIU, another speaker, added, “No estan solo. You are not alone. We will fight together and we will win.”

More than anything else, unity was the theme of the event, which more than 1,000 people signed up to attend on the Oakland Sin Fronteras Facebook page.

After the speeches, the group set off down International Boulevard to San Antonio Park, where the event continued.
Marchers hoisted banners reading, “Immigrant rights are human rights,” and, perhaps most symbolic of all, a blazing red flag that read ‘Xicana’ waved immediately next to LGBTQ rainbow flags.

The term “Xicana” is a variant of “Chicana” that acknowledges the indigenous roots of women from Mexico, according to Reyna Jauregui of Oakland.

“It just happened this way,” Jauregui said of her position next to the rainbow flag.

“But I do feel we are united. We are all in this together,” Jauregui said, expertly wrangling the giant Xicana flag in one hand and a Popsicle in the other.

“It’s called intersectionality,” said Jill Friedman, an Oakland photographer who attended the event. “You can’t just stand with one inequity.

You can’t be an environmentalist and not deal with white supremacy.”

Gehad Massoud of Fremont, a Muslim woman who attended wearing a headscarf, said, “I came because it’s the duty of every American and every worker to stand up for those who are struggling — and that includes ourselves.”

Francesco Bishop Falcone and Scott Bishop Falcone of Berkeley said they married on May 1 three years ago in solidarity with workers’ rights.

“Both of us had experiences as immigrants, but we are deluxe immigrants who have been allowed to thrive. We feel everyone should have that right,” Scott Bishop Falcone said.

Police said there were no reports of any injuries, property damage, arrests or citations during the rally.

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