L.A. May Day observances split immigration, Occupy groups
Angelica Salas, executive director for CHIRLA, says she hopes her group can work closer with Occupy protesters.
April 27th, 2012
06:21 PM ET

L.A. May Day observances split immigration, Occupy groups

Two groups in Los Angeles just can’t seem to get together on a day of solidarity.

For more than a decade, May 1 - which is the labor movement's International Workers' Day, or May Day - has been about immigration in Los Angeles. Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, said for many years people in the United States didn't celebrate the day, but CHIRLA has tried to change that in Southern California.

“[It’s] a major day of mobilization. All around the world people mobilize en mass," Salas said. “And we’re very proud to have brought back to the United States the engagement of May 1.”

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Jim Roope)

This year, however, immigration will share the day with the Occupy protesters. Nationwide, Occupy organizers are calling for large-scale demonstrations across the country on International Workers' Day, which is Tuesday.

Salas says CHIRLA and other immigrant-rights groups have tried to get together with the Occupy movement for the day. But Michael Novick, an organizer for Occupy Los Angeles, says the two sides just couldn’t “gel.”

“We felt that Occupy itself had to plan out its particular actions on the day,” Novick said.

Since last year, Occupy protesters have rallied against what they say is income inequality, corporate greed and the influence of the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

Salas said it would have been great to get the Occupy movement involved with the May 1st Coalition, which is made of various immigration and workers groups. Immigrants, she said, are part of the 99%.

“[Immigrants] are part of the base of individuals of Americans who have been brutally, I would say, attacked by corporations,” she said.

Novick said that although May 1 in Los Angeles has been traditionally about immigration, it’s also for human rights in general.

“It’s for labor rights, for economic and social justice, for economic equity, and for peace. And we think that will build a strong force downtown to say this is going to be a day that could change the world a little bit and hopefully for the better,” Novick said.

Because the groups haven't gotten on the same page, immigrant-rights marches will be held on Tuesday morning, while Occupy Los Angeles protests will happen in the afternoon, at about 1 p.m.

Salas hopes the two movements can work together on future May Days.

“May Day is one day,” Salas said. “Our job is to penetrate and work on message 365 days. So I’m not concerned,” she said.

Salas said they’ll try again next year to figure out how to, in her words, “build a more progressive movement in this country that speaks about all of us and doesn’t feel like one message or one group is more sympathetic than the other.”

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. jake

    The May Day rallies have so helped the immigrants' cause. They flooded the streets with their Mexican flags and demanded their US citizenship. LA high school students flew the US flag upside down under the Mexican flag. A Spanish language radio station in LA re-wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish all about immigration. May Day rallies are the gift that keeps on giving to the anti-illegal immigration cause. Every year more illegals spill out on to the street and show all of American why Amnesty should never be passed.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Annette

      Very true Jake my family is of Mexican decent and we laugh at how stupid these illegal immigrants from Mexico are. They wave their flag when they want American Citizenship in America. Instead of waving the Mexican flag wave they should wave the American flag and show the government that you want to be a citizen of this country and not a citizen of Mexico.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. south central Anon

    CHIRAL and Salas sold out and turned their back on the youth and community during the 2007 May Day march in L.A. when the police attacked family and community member in MacArthur park. She blamed the states terrorism on "anarchist" and the youth. While openly working with the LAPD not only that year but the following years. CHIRLA's nothing but poverty pimps attached to the non-profit industrial complex. And Salas is a narcissist who wants to be a politician.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dana

    The whole march ended with a rally for immigration rights at Perishing Square. They were still at it when I left an hour ago. The fact that the two groups did come together in the end made today even more beautiful.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lisa

    Americas own poor do not make the demands on our Government illegals who don't belong here do. Mexican Illegals come here and demand we make them 'middle class' and give them amnesty, free college and their wishes when all they will do is continue to freeload off our government for generations to come. Flying our flag upside down and the sacred themes of America done in Spanish/Mexican is nothing but disgusting arrogance and violence against this country, proving the arrogant and corrupt, low life behavior of people who don't belong here. The march was a flop and embarrassment in Seattle, and pretty much the same across the US. You pathetics proved nothing, you just made us resent you all the more.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
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