Day 5: Saturday, March 25
This morning, as one million Californians took to the streets in Los Angeles and 5,000 people marched in San Jose (hunger striker Patricia Nuño addressed the masses in San Jose), 400 Bay Area residents gathered under weather-worn umbrellas at the SF Federal Building to hear local and national leaders raise our community’s voices on this National Day of Solidarity. The crowd was exuberant!
Organizer Evelyn Sanchez held a cell phone to a mic as community leaders from across the nation called in reports of growing actions. Eun Sook Lee of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium riled the crowd when she announced that one million Los Angelinos had gathered at City Hall (one million!). Other reports came from Leo Morales of the Idaho Community Action Network and Ricardo Diaz of A Day Without an Immigrant in Pennsylvania.
Local speakers included Jeremiah Jeffries of Teachers for Social Justice and SF People’s Organization who called for progressive communities to exert their political power, and Marta Donayre of Love Sees No Borders who reminded everyone that immigration issues also impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people. Molly McKay of Equality California called for LGBT communities to stand in solidarity with immigrant communities.
Nancy Esteva, an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico clothed in traditional dress, moved Spanish speakers with her fierce poetry. Hunger striker Jay Pugao called for the defeat of Specter and Sensenbrenner’s bills, explaining that they would criminalize the very youth and families he works with. He thanked communities of color and white allies for their support, and led the crowd in a rousing chant of “Makibaka” (Makibaka means “struggle” in Tagalog and connotes activism).
One of the most poignant moments of the rally came halfway through when a mother, surrounded by her four children, announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained her husband yesterday when he went to ICE for a routine work visa update. The eldest of the children asked that ICE release her father explaining, “my daddy isn’t a criminal.” Ripping families apart – this is exactly what the Sensenbrenner and Specter bills would do.