From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — Thousands of people took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles May 1 for annual May Day marches supporting rights for workers and immigrants, with an emphasis on pushing for a $15 minimum wage and implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
The rallies and marches tied up traffic on parts of downtown Los Angeles, with streets closed throughout the area to accommodate the crowds.
Participants in an International Workers March gathered at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, then marched north on Broadway to Grand Park at Broadway and First Street. Participants in a Full Rights March gathered at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway in Chinatown, then marched east on Cesar Chavez, south on Main Street, east on Aiso Street, south on Alameda Street then west on Temple Street, again ending at Grand Park.
Another march, organized in part by the International Action Center, was held at MacArthur Park. The march echoed themes of the other marches, and protesters stood in solidarity with “courageous Baltimore youth.”
The theme of the Full Rights March was “On May Day, No Justice Delayed,” pushing for an increased minimum wage, implementation of Obama’s orders to protect millions of immigrants from deportation and an end to police violence.
“It is our duty as a labor movement to fight for a living wage and enforcement so that working families have a chance to thrive,” said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The time is now to raise the wage for hundreds of thousands of working Angelenos.”
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, added that “justice has been denied to millions who await their chance at the American Dream.”
“Justice has been denied to millions who work hard and earn barely enough to survive,” she said. “Justice has been denied to millions whose dignity and respect have been trampled by law enforcement agencies. Enough is enough and our presence on May Day is the exclamation point in our demands.”
The Los Angeles City Council is debating a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25 an hour by 2017, to $15.25 an hour by 2019, and higher levels in subsequent years based on the Consumer Price Index.
On the immigration front, millions of immigrants are awaiting the outcome of federal litigation over
Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles, said her organization is working to help immigrants take advantage of the programs, if they are implemented.
“On May 1, we will come together with our partners to give the community reliable, up-to-date information on what the programs do and don’t do, and our legal and organizing staff will be there to answer questions from the public,” Arevalo said.