By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
The celebration of May Day saw thousands of black, white and Latino activists and union members marching Monday from an Hispanic church to Union Park where they were joined by thousands then ending the rally at the Daley Plaza calling for justice.
Despite the rain, they marched and demanded an end to mass deportations, relief to the besieged island of Puerto Rico and equal rights for all citizens. Numerous groups were joined by members of the Black Lives Matter group as well.
Rev. Walter “Slim” Coleman, and his wife, Emma Lozano, who organized the march from their Adalberto United Methodist Church, 2716 W. Division, were joined by many others including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rev. Janette Wilson, who represented Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sir, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and numerous black, white and Latino activists.
Looking out at the crowd at Union Park, Durbin said, “I stand before you my fellow immigrants as a son of an immigrant mother, first generation American who was bound to the diversity of this nation….” He said families should not be divided and demanded “justice when it comes to issues gender equality, sexual orientation equality as well….”
“When it comes to racial equality, American has come a long way, but we have a long, long way to go,” Durbin said. “We have to dedicate ourselves towards working together to end the racial discrimination and inequity in our country.
“The election of Donald Trump is a challenge to all of us whether we will stand up and speak up for our values,” he said.
Referring to all of the marches against the Trump agenda, Durbin said, “The question is whether we will take this energy and this emotion and translate it into political action to elect men and women who stand up for values of America. That is our challenge and that is why we march today for many days to come,” Durbin said.
Lawrence Benito, CEO, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said, “On this historic day for immigrants, refugees and workers” his organization is proud to join the “National Day of Resistance with our national partners, in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, whose member organizations have planned 259 events across the U.S. in 41 states to show the power and resilience of immigrant and refugee communities in America.”
“This year, May Day has special significance,” Benito said, “Since January, immigrant and refugee communities have come under unprecedented attacks from the federal government. From banning millions of people on the outside from entering, to criminalizing immigrants inside the country, the White Houses racist and Islamophoic policies have terrorized not just those groups targeted but all of us.”
Referring to the bad news from Washington that has not stopped, Benito added, “Just this weekend, we learned that Congress reached a deal on the federal budget which gives the White House an additional $1.5 billion to enforce their racist immigration priorities.
“Our message to Democrats and Republicans alike is clear…we are watching and we see this collaboration with a White House that wants to further criminalize and separate families appalling and unacceptable.
“Since January, we have seen the raids on immigrant families escalating,” he said. “Immigrants have been unlawfully detained and mothers being ripped from their children.”
Benito called on state elected officials to listen to the people and to act to protect, not only immigrants and refugees but also all communities. “We need you today to fully support passing the Illinois TRUST Act which will likely be up for a full vote this week.
“The Illinois TRUST Act is the single most important safeguard Illinois can enact to help protect our communities against the racist, xenophobic policies of the White House and the U.S. Attorney General.”
This Act will help to keep federal immigration enforcement separate from local law enforcement. It will enact safe zones in communities and help immigrant crime victims seek legal assistance. It will also prevent Illinois from participating in any sort of discriminatory registry.
Benito said the power, resilience and strength of America “is a diverse coalition of people who seek peace and unity. Our communities will not stand for attacks on each other. That is what makes us powerful. Everyone deserves to live in peace. Keeping families together is a human value, and it must be defended with everything we have.”