Inland residents celebrate ‘May Day’ in Riverside

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Photo/Anthony Victoria: Residents marching down Market Street in Riverside during the Inland Empire's May Day event on May 1, 2017.

Civil rights organizers from across the Inland Empire convened in downtown Riverside on Monday to celebrate May Day and show opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

The diverse crowd of about 300 marched and shouted in solidarity for immigrant and LGBTQ rights, environmental protections, fair worker representation, prison reform, and many other issues.

“We as immigrants don’t have the right working conditions,” said Rafael Davila of Riverside. “I’m here to be the voice for my parents and my family. I see a lot of discrimination taking place here. We’re seeing it everywhere.”

May Day, known formally as International Workers’ Day, is commemorated every first of May to celebrate the rights of workers. In recent years, community organizers have spent the day assembling rallies and leading marches to denounce immigrant detention and deportations. Event organizers expanded the platform this year to allow environmentalists, women advocates, and LGBTQ leaders to express their grievances.

Trump caused a stir over the weekend when he announced that May 1 would be proclaimed as ‘Loyalty Day’. The Commander-in-Chief urged people to celebrate the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and flying flags over public buildings. Every U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower has issued a declaration for the date to describe the importance of American patriotism, individual freedom, and diversity.

Photo/Anthony Victoria: Colton resident and indigenous elder Henry Vasquez conducting a blessing during the May Day rally and march in downtown Riverside on May 1, 2017.

The Inland Empire’s May Day march remained peaceful. No arrests or public disturbances were reported.

Marchers gathered at Fairmount Park at 10 a.m and walked into midtown–making stops at City Hall, the Robert Presley Detention Center, and the Public Library.

One of several issues discussed was Senate Bill 54–the California Values Act–legislation that intends to make California a ‘Sanctuary State.’ The bill, still being voted on, aims to prohibit local and state law enforcement agencies from using resources to collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.

American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Community Engagement and Policy Advocate Luis Nolasco is convinced the bill will provide stronger protections to shield immigrants from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

“This is the strongest piece of legislation around the country aimed at stopping the mass deportation regime that President Trump wants to take part in,” Nolasco said. “California needs to lead the way in fighting back against these policies.”

Photo/Anthony Victoria: Rafael Davila holding a butterfly sign that reads, “Migration is Beautiful”, as he walks towards Riverside City Hall during the May Day rally and march on May 1, 2017.

Others like Marina Wood, a Survivor Advocate at Cal State San Bernardino’s Women’s Center, chose to speak on the issue of domestic violence against women. She wrote a poem to commemorate the life of North Park Elementary School teacher Karen Smith, who was killed by her estranged husband Cedric Anderson on April 10.

“I’m so sorry that you were probably terrified when you saw [Cedric] enter the classroom,” Wood said, reading from a sheet of paper. “I’m so sorry that he couldn’t give you space. You did everything right.”

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