Posted on May 2, 2011

A Much Smaller May Day March

Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2011, 6:08


Only a few thousand people showed up for the nine-block march that started early and ended quickly. Los Angeles police declined to issue a crowd estimate, but marchers didn’t even fill the intersection of Broadway and 1st Street, where the demonstration ended.

It marked a steep drop-off for a movement that prided itself for bringing hundreds of thousands onto the streets of downtown in 2006, and a million nationwide, to rally for legislation that would legalize the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Last year, galvanized by Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal-immigration law, about 60,000 marchers participated in Los Angeles.

But six years with no significant legislative reform “has started to chip away at the spirit of the community,” said Pedro Reyes, a former L.A. resident who recently moved to Santa Maria, Calif., where he teaches English to migrant farm workers. “It’s definitely causing a toll.”

{snip} And instead of young couples pushing strollers, most marchers were union members–particularly from the Service Employees International Union, which turned out hundreds of people–or members of a socialist or communist group.

“We’re here because Obama is a liar,” said Carlos Escorcia, a member of the Nicaraguan socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front. “He promised legalization. When he could have done it, he didn’t. This government’s worse than Bush’s.”

Many expressed disappointment with the Obama administration’s aggressive enforcement of immigration laws and increase in deportations–a strategy aimed in part at winning support for comprehensive reform from political moderates who believe the government has failed in past enforcement efforts.


One [Obama supporter] was Luis Serrano, 23, a history student at Los Angeles Valley College who hopes to attend a four-year college and get his teaching credential.

The chances for real reform, he said, seem “very slim” these days. The Sylmar High School graduate saw this as the reason for the march’s low turnout.

“I think people are starting to lose hope,” he said.