Danny, a Van Nuys resident and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, was not sure what to expect from his first May Day march experience. He had participated in other political rallies but had only heard about the energy and purposefulness felt from the annual walks through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
The event on Tuesday, May 1, turned out to be a memorable one for the 23-year-old.
“It was impressive to see so many people gathering together to show solidarity among the communities,” said Danny, who asked only to use his first name. “I wasn’t sure if the weather would deter some people. But people showed up. I was pleased to see a lot of parents and older folks came. I thought the majority would be youth like myself, but people from all ages were here.”
By contrast Zuleyma, 28, of Van Nuys, said she has been involved with the May Day marches since 2006. Yet she also had praise for what she saw on Tuesday.
“In scale it was a little smaller (than in other years). But the spirit was great,” said Zuleyma, who is also a DACA recipient and who also didn’t want to reveal her last name.
“Everybody was enthusiastic and hopeful, as in other years. With everything that is going on politically, you can feel sometimes a change in attitude. But it was nothing like that. It was all positive.”
Thousands of union members, immigrant-rights advocates and community activists descended on downtown Los Angeles for marches that annually bring traffic in the area to a standstill as protesters speak out for workers and immigrants.
Organizers of the main march, which stretched from Pershing Square to the downtown federal building, focused on three themes — defending workers’ rights, halting deportations that break up families and urging residents to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Both Danny and Zuleyma said they were in the main march.
“Hearing the testimonies from folks and seeing the communities show up, it gives me hope that they will continue to stay engaged in civic actions,” Danny said.
Nearly three dozen unions and community organizations were involved in organizing the march, which began around midday with a rally in front of the Immigration Court building adjacent to Pershing Square.
The crowd then moved east on Sixth Street, north on Main Street and east on Temple Street, ending outside the Roybal Federal Building at 255 E. Temple St., where another short rally was held.
The Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition and the People’s Congress of Resistance, meanwhile, sponsored a second march that began early Tuesday afternoon at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, then moved north on Broadway and ended between Temple and First streets.
A third march was held in Boyle Heights, beginning at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Mathews Street, ending at Mariachi Plaza, 730 Pleasant Ave. Along the way, the group stopped for a peaceful rally outside the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station to denounce police killings.
Union del Barrio Los Angeles, meanwhile, held a late-afternoon march beginning at MacArthur Park and bound for Los Angeles City Hall, supporting the DACA program and legalization of street vending in the city.
Past marches have drawn tens of thousands of people, unleashing seas of humanity onto downtown streets.
Crowds at Tuesday’s marches were noticeably smaller, but they still managed to choke traffic on downtown-area streets.
Marches and rallies are only one step, however, both Danny and Zuleyma said.
“I want to see this action transcend into votes in the midterm elections,” Danny said. “DACA is seeing a lot of support and solidarity. We want our representatives to take a stronger stance, seeing how well-supported this program is.”
“I would love for people to not just just show up and march but to be more active,” Zuleyma said. “It would be great if people got move involved. We are working hard to inform people, do everything we can and see a difference (in the voting).”