White House Protest Corps

Activists gear up for united mass outreach on May Day
April 19, 2010, 5:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Activists gear up for united mass outreach on May Day

By Brenda Ryan
New York

Published Apr 18, 2010 9:43 PM

A standing-room-only crowd of activists gathered April 7 to continue building for the May Day rally at New York’s Union Square.

The joint meeting of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights and the Bail Out the People Movement drew more than 90 people. They included members of immigrant communities and unions, and also representatives from the March 4 student actions for education. In a spirited discussion, they reported on the widespread organizing efforts under way for the May 1 action.

The meeting was one of several being held around the city as May Day rapidly approaches. Another one was recently hosted in Washington Heights by the Movement for Independence, Unity and Change, a coalition of Dominican forces.

Teresa Gutierrez, a co-coordinator of the May 1 Coalition, and Larry Holmes of BOPM co-chaired the meeting. Gutierrez spoke about how May Day 2010 is building on the historic march of 250,000 for immigrant rights in Washington on March 21. While the organizers of that march failed to demand legalization for all, this is a central demand of May Day.

Holmes said the demonstration at Union Square represents a struggle against raids and deportations as well as a demonstration for all those who want jobs, who are concerned about education, who are fighting racist brutality, gentrification and homelessness. He also described it as a demonstration against the “Tea Party” movement.

“The Tea Party’s program is division,” Holmes said. “It says ‘let’s not go after the banks. Let’s go after immigrants, let’s go after Black people.’ May Day is a gigantic answer from progressive people.”

The theme of May Day is unity. Those at the meeting showed how organizing has spread throughout many of the city’s communities. BAYAN USA Chairperson Berna Ellorin noted that BAYAN, the Day Laborers United of Woodside, the Philippine Forum and many other Queens groups are organizing a march for immigrant rights in Woodside and Jackson Heights on April 18, to build up for May 1.

Students from the City University of New York who organized the March 4 action reported they are mobilizing students for May Day. “Your fight is our fight,” one declared.

A member of the Trail of Dreams connected May Day to the battle of immigrant youths. Trail of Dreams is a group of undocumented youths who began a march from Florida in January and expect to arrive in Washington, D.C., on May 1. These undocumented students are openly and heroically declaring their immigration status to continue their five-year-long struggle to demand passage of the Dream Act, which would grant residency for six years to students 16 or younger.

Participants in the Trail of Dreams from New York came to the May 1 meeting to announce plans for an April 10 rally and take-off from Washington Heights to D.C.

High school students also spoke about their organizing efforts. A student from Build On, a youth group that does local community service and builds schools in other countries, said her organization is doing outreach to bring thousands of students to the May 1 rally. Dalia Griñan, a ninth grader and co-organizer of the May 29 post-Katrina/Rita Awareness Walk, linked May Day to the struggle for justice for survivors of the hurricanes.

Members of the May 1 Coalition as well as BOPM are also intensifying their efforts to get the word about May Day into every community of the city. Dozens of people have put up posters in every borough and passed out leaflets on the streets and at various events. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Storekeepers are eager to have leaflets posted in their windows and many people ask for additional leaflets to get out in their neighborhoods.


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