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May Day March for Justice

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Later on Monday, after we listened to U.S. Senator Sanders speak in the morning, we decided to drive over to the Free Stamp area in Willard Park on Lakeside Avenue to attend a "May Day March for Justice" consisting of about 100 people from quite a few progressive groups like the Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF), chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Cleveland Jobs with Justice, Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Association (LOIRA), and the Cuyahoga Progressive Caucus.

What prompted us to attend, in fact, was an email that we had received from the Cuyahoga Progressive Caucus stating that ending deportation and the welcoming of refugees would be two of the issues addressed.

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Upon arrival, we hooked up with our friend Ms. Wynne Antonio, coordinator of the "Senior Voice" coalition at the North Shore AFL-CIO, who was also at the U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders event earlier that day and we discussed the history of the May 1st International Workers Day which is a celebration of laborers and working classes commemorating the Haymarket Affair in Chicago in 1886.

To be sure several of the speakers talked about it too, and after the speeches we all marched to Public Square. It was a fine show of solidarity and the speakers were excellent but naturally, we were drawn several who discussed refugee and immigrant rights like Ms. Zahraa Reyadh and Mr. Jose Mendez both of whom spoke before at the Cleveland Tax Day March on April 15th.

Ms. Reyadh, who immigrated to the United States from Iraq via Jordan and recently became a U.S. citizen, talked about the unexpected hostility that she and her family have encountered in the United States due to them being Muslims. Mr. Mendez is a "dreamer" who was brought to the United States by his parents when he was seven years old. He understandably resents President Trump's rhetoric about undocumented people being unproductive; both he and his family have paid thousands of dollars in taxes and are ineligible for social services. What's more he is angered by such proposals that would allow himself, as a "dreamer", to stay in the U.S. but would require that his parents be deported. He contended that he was certainly "not better" than his parents or other people threatened with deportation as well as the farm laborers who toil daily in extremely hot weather.

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Another passionate speech was delivered by Miss Liz Cooper, an Oberlin College attendee, who called for her fellow students to stand behind the most vulnerable people in our society like the undocumented and the LGBT. She was greatly inspired by the the scholars in Puerto Rico who are rallying against the millions of dollars of financial cuts to the universities there.

Lastly, there was particularly poignant testimony by an undocumented woman from Mexico (recited with the help of a translator) who had lived in the United States for 15 years and had children born both in the U.S. and in Mexico. She said that she had come to the U.S. to make a better life for herself and her children. Accordingly, she declared that even though the political climate was particularly tough right now she was determined to remain here. She concluded by saying to the rest of us there, "thank you for fighting for our rights. We will fight for yours."

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC