Long Beach Rallies for Workers, Immigrants on May Day

May. 3, 2016 / By

Hundreds of Long Beach community members marched from MacArthur Park to City Hall on Sunday in support of worker’s rights, immigrant rights, and police reform, among several other issues.

May Day, celebrated on May 1st, is an international rallying day that emerged from the fervent workers’ movement in the 1880’s that birthed the eight-hour work shift. This past weekend, Long Beach workers said their struggle was not over.

Made up of a coalition of 19 organizations, the march and rally was the first May Day mobilization of this scale in Long Beach, which brought together The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Black Lives Matter, The Filipino Migrant Center, and The Greater Interfaith Community Organization.

A protester looks on at the crowd at City Hall.

A protester looks on at the crowd at City Hall.

At the rally alongside his mother, 20-year-old Victor Alvarez expressed his anguish over the deportation of his father, José Alvarez. A Cal State Long Beach officer pulled Alvarez over for a broken taillight in February. The Long Beach resident and father was then taken custody by Immigration Customs Enforcement.

“I don’t want police to do what they did to my husband,” said Infa Ortiz, Alvarez’s wife. “They didn’t even give him a chance to seek a lawyer, they just deported him.”

Rosa Casarrubias, who works at the Westin hotel in Long Beach, said she was illegally suspended from work on April 25, adding that she and her fellow coworkers are often overworked and sexually assaulted.

“As a woman, it is frightening to go into this situation because you know something bad may happen to you,” said Casarrubias. “This can’t stay this way. We need better ways to protect working women in Long Beach.”

Long Beach members of Black Lives Matter also made a presence, rallying alongside immigrant rights advocates. Family members of those fatally shot by Long Beach police spoke out at the rally, asking for reforms within the police department.

The march and rally had no incidents but a worker from the Westin hotel looked on and made a gesture that suggested the marchers were “cuckoo.”

Dave Shukla, a UCLA Urban Planning graduate student, said he participated in the march in hopes of building support for fair wages and equality.

“The more money you put into the community, the more money that’s spent on the community – the more the community thrives,” said Shukla. “I would like to see a city committed to justice for workers’ rights and enforcement of those rights.”

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For more information, visit the May Day Long Beach Coalition website and read the coalition’s manifesto.

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