Downtown Anaheim sprang to life around noon when hundreds of people gathered to march in solidarity for this year’s May Day on Monday, May 1.
Unions from all over Orange County congregated in front of the St. Boniface Church in Anaheim to raise awareness for the continuing struggle immigrants face when working in America.
“We want to show support and unite with the rest of the unions. We are showing the community and especially with Trump that we will continue fighting,” said Ada Tamayo, an organizer with Unite Here Local 11.
The march started at the church where the numerous unions united together, lead in prayer by an organizer of the event who criticized President Donald Trump for calling the holiday “loyalty day.” She said she feels it demeans immigration workers fighting for their rights and fair treatment.
The marchers navigated through downtown Anaheim, prompting honks from passing cars and nods of approval from workers unable to take the day off themselves.
Many chants like “si se puede!” (meaning “yes we can!”) rang throughout the streets as they made their way lead by banging drums and a traditional dancer.
Immigration issues do not end at workers’ rights, but continue with the fight for health care for the uninsured as well.
“We’re in a battle to keep health care for all Americans, not just those who have insurance,” said Elizabeth Hawkins, member of the United Nurses Association of California. “We’re saying ‘all Americans deserve health care and we don’t want it taken away’.”
Many marchers from last year’s May Day returned this year in solidarity like Edward Poettgen, a reverend at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Santa Ana.
“In my community there are difficulties in regards to immigration that gives a great fear to a lot of people,” Poettgen said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here – to pray that we as a nation will be able to make laws that will help hardworking people who are affected by the immigration law.”
Other churches were represented in the march like the Community Congregational United Church of Christ in Los Alamitos, whose two members marched with pride flags adorned on their backs.
“We want to show solidarity and support and we want to show the administration that a lot of people are here that care about workers’ and immigrants’ rights,” said Monica Glicken, member of the church and an immigration attorney.
Marchers also carried “black lives matter” signs, highlighting other issues outside of immigration in America.
The hour-long march ended at a nearby park where everyone engaged in a last big “si se puede” chant before meeting with each other, taking pictures and mingling between unions.
“We’re trying to shine a light on how immigrants are treated in our community and how they need to be safeguarded,” said Matt Bell, Executive Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers 324 union. “It’s for our union, not just here in Anaheim, but throughout our country and throughout the world.”