Long Beach activists speak out at May Day 2021

May. 4, 2021 / By

Five women hold up a banner that says L B C says protection not detention.

All photos by Ceferino Martirez.

 

Over four dozen cars honked and drove through North Long Beach on May 1 to commemorate May Day, also known as International Workers Day.

For years, the day has been an opportunity for activists to gather and speak on issues of concern in their communities. In Long Beach, May Day began at the now closed Food 4 Less in North Long Beach and ended at Houghton Park.

“May Day is to honor our ancestors who fought for us, who were mistreated for us,” said Audrena Redmond, an organizer for Black Lives Matter Long Beach. “I can’t think of May Day and live in California without thinking of the Braceros, without giving recognition to those Mexican folks that were encouraged to come here and [would] be mistreated by the corporations… sending them home with none of what they promised.”

A former labor organizer and now Cal State Long Beach professor, Alfredo Carlos attended to celebrate workers from around the world and show solidarity to organizers who support worker empowerment.

“It’s important to value workers,” said Carlos, who is also director of the Foundation of Economic Democracy. “In this [capitalist] society, workers don’t get valued and so we have to come out in full support for workers, for the struggle, for them to be able to live, work and be dignified.”

Hoku Jeffrey of By Any Means Necessary attended the caravan to express his frustration at the lack of transparency regarding the Long Beach Convention Center being used to hold unaccompanied migrant children.

“We’re here because all of the children must be freed and reunited with their families,” Jeffrey said. “They have the right to be here and the right to be with their families. These young people must be given legal status now!” 

Community leaders have called for an oversight committee to monitor the children and help hold the federal government is held accountable with their promises of maintaining the health and safety of the undocumented migrants.

“What we’re looking for is an oversight committee in this facility in collaboration with HHS to ensure that the kids are unified as soon as possible and that all the promises by the government are done,” said Gaby Hernandez of the Long Beach Immigrants Rights Coalition. “For us, it’s about the migrant children that are here at the Convention Center.” 

LBIRC organizer Carina Rodriguez said that the oversight committee, while not being a final solution, is a step toward better increasing safety standards for the children.

“I don’t think any kids should be in a cage. The fear that’s going through their heads is going to affect their mentality [and] it’s going to haunt them for the rest of their lives,” said Jacyln Almustafa, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Long Beach chapter.

Many organizers and attendees also expressed solidarity with the desire for more tenant protections. 

“All of these individuals are being evicted [with] a loophole that exists within our just-cause eviction laws here,” said Maria Lopez of multiple buildings the Long Beach Tenants Union is working with. “It is called substantial remodeling. We want to close that loophole.”

The loophole refers to substantial remodeling of a unit being considered a just-cause for eviction under the California tenant protection act. Locally, landlords have been known to use this as a reason to attempt to evict tenants during the pandemic

A member of the Party of Socialism and Liberation, who identified themselves as Javier, spoke about their desire for radical change, highlighting the need to stop police brutality and U.S. involvement in Latin America.

“I’m an immigrant, I was born in Colombia. I came here not to pursue the American Dream but instead to follow the trail of stolen coffee beans, emeralds, and bananas… plundered by U.S. imperialism,” Javier said. “We need to take back the radical, socialist history of this historic date. We need to reignite the famous slogan, than an injury to one is an injury to all.”

 

People speak to each other, forming a half-circle in front of cars.

LBIRC organizers talk about the car caravan before it begins.

 

A woman looks forward as a man to the left speaks with others.

May Day Coalition members Hannah Benavidez and Jedi Jimenez prepare other organizers and attendees as they start the caravan’s trip that ends at Houghton Park.

 

A woman and a man in a moving car raise their fists in solidarity.

Leanna Noble and Hollis Stewart of DSA-LB drive through the Carmelitos, honking to express solidarity.

 

A woman raises a fist while holding a cowbell and standing in a moving car.

A woman raises a fist while holding a cowbell as their car caravan drives throughout North Long Beach.

 

A woman speaks into a microphone at the park.

Audrena Redmond speaks about the historical importance of May Day, or International Workers Day, and social justice within America.

 

A man hands a burning sage to a seated woman.

LBIRC supporter and CSULB professor Eduardo Lara passes around a “burning sage” to another attendee.

 

A seated woman claps.

DSA organizer Hannah Benavidez claps while listening to speakers at Houghton Park.

 

A man poses while holding a sign for his organization.

Vicente Castellanos, an organizer from Latinos in Action, at Houghton Park.

 

A man speaks into a microphone while raising up an arm. Behind him, his young child grabs onto his shirt.

Javier from the Party of Socialism and Liberation speaks about his upbringing as an immigrant, police abuse, and fighting for immigrant rights.

 

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Ceferino Martirez

There is much work to be done in the Greater Long Beach, and more more for the world