Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Day 1: Tuesday, March 21

Over 50 hunger strikers and community organizations started a seven-day protest in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco calling for fair and just immigration reform, and to denounce Representative James Sensenbrenner’s and Senator Arlen Specter’s bills that designate all undocumented immigrants as aggravated felons.

At noon, organizers held a press conference to announce the start of the Hunger Strike and Week of Actions. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, reminded people that immigrants are the backbone of our economy – taking care of our elderly, picking our food, cleaning our homes. She boldly called for legalization saying that undocumented immigrants deserve it given all they have contributed to this country. Other speakers included: Sheila Chung from the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, Hong-An Tran from Services, Immigrant Rights, Education Network (SIREN) in San Jose, Kyung Jin Lee of the Korean Community Center of the East Bay, and hunger striker Cesar Cruz.

Rev. Mac Jatto of Africa International Mission blessed the hunger strikers and broke a ceremonial last meal of bread with them.

Organizers and Supervisor Chris Daly’s office had a long day of negotiations with the SF Police Department, the Federal Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and various permit offices. Our portable bathroom was hauled away at one point because of a permit blockage. By the late afternoon, however, we received assurances from local and federal law enforcement that they would not hamper the Hunger Strike or our actions.

A class from San Francisco State joined us in the afternoon to learn about our reasons for hunger striking. What a great way to put classroom learning into context! Nurse Stephan from St. Anthony’s Clinic also came by to take hunger strikers’ vitals. Attorney John Viola who specializes in demonstrations also provided support throughout the day.

In the early evening, close to 400 mothers, fathers, children and community members gathered at Dolores Park in San Francisco’s Mission District where they watched Grupo de Danza Azteca Xiuhcoatl (Xiuhcoatl Aztec Dance Group) and Teatro Coalición Deporten a la Migra (Deport the INS Coalition Theatre) perform. They also heard inspiring words from Pastor Mauricio Chacón of Presbyterian Church of the Mission, María Poblet, member of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, Guillermina Castellanos from Coalición Deporten a la Migra, and Concha Saucedo from Instituto Familiar de la Raza.

Those gathered marched to the Federal Building, swaying to the beat of Korean drums.

Marchers announced their arrival at the Federal Building around 7:30pm with enthusiastic chants – “¡Se ve! ¡Se siente! ¡El pueblo está presente!” (“You can see it! You can feel it! The community is present!”) They embraced hunger strikers and a member of Grupo Maya Quisamej Junan offered a Mayan blessing with sage to give strength to the hunger strikers.

Renee Saucedo, an organizer and hunger striker, shared her gratitude with the crowd and reminded everyone that those going without food are simply a vehicle to raise the voices of our entire community. Flor Ramos of La Raza Centro Legal wrapped up the program by encouraging everyone to join us again throughout the Week of Actions.

Shortly after, the hunger strikers climbed into their tents to get a good night’s rest in preparation for Wednesday’s actions. An amazing support team stayed up to keep watch.

At the end of the evening we asked four hunger strikers, “What most impacted you today?” Read their answers:

“It was like what Cesar said – ‘It will be your voices that
feed us today.’ When the marchers came, I felt like I could go on
forever.” – Wayne

“The arresting of the bathrooms.” – Bruce

“I can’t explain how happy it made me to see so many moms,
kids, and dads. I felt a sense of empowerment. This community is usually thought of as passive – expected not to stand up for our dignity and justice. Today made me realize that we have so much power to
change things.” – Raul

“Los que marcharon hasta dejaron sus novelas para darnos su
apoyo. Me gustó porque son personas que pudieran haber dicho, ‘que se lo arreglen,’ pero no.” – Maria

“I know a lot of people who have to be out here [in the cold] daily and I know that a week from now I can go back into a warm place. It makes me think of all the immigrants in the cold deserts of California and Arizona.” – Bruce


12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You for your efforts
I have posted a link to your blog on a posting I did for the Cesar E. Chavez Celebration. Hope you don't mind. It can be viewed here. http://www.craigslist.org/sfc/com/144746804.html

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

students aginst H.R. 4437 it is wrong this law is racist it is not fair for student who's parents are from another plzce when white people came to america there was never a law that thay can't come here so im just here to say student against H.R 4437

12:38 PM  
Anonymous miguel said...

students against H.R.ther will be a protest on olympic blvd in saruday the 25 come to support us

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear sisters and brothers in S.F.,

Thanks so much for your hard committement and hope the hunger strikers stay well...

In past few months, everyone was pissed off, because our country was heading to the wrong directon, where there were a full of hate, racism, and division,

but now, the people, the immigrants, finally woke up from a long nightmare,

and we are waking up and rising up for a humane America and united American for families and hard working immigrants...

Tomorrow, in LA, we will be marching in solidarity of your struggle in S.F.

Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote...

Thank you all.

In Solidarity,
DJ from LA...

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thank you all who are out there in the week long hunger strike. it is unhuman what they are triying to do by passing the hr bill. i have faith it wont because they need us we feed them we clean their messess and take care of their elderly. son unos ipocritas, we too are human and deserve as the same rights. viva la raza.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So wait a minute. People come here illegally. For those unclear on the concept, that means by entry, they violate standing laws of the United States of America.

And now you want to look the other way? This isn't "migrant rights". This isn't even "immigrant rights". This is an unwarranted and illogical "get out of jail free" card for those who consciously decided to violate the laws of this nation in order to live here. Good for them for having the guts, but we don't reward 'guts'. We reward merit and we reward those who play by the rules. And those rules apply to everyone.

None of my ancestors jumped a fence or swam a river, and they had to wait plenty of time to get in the country legally. And then when they got here they were shunned, discriminated against and trated like outcasts. The color of their skin and the nature of their politics were irrelevancies. Why should you people be entitled to preferential treatment?

Play by the rules or you don't get to play at all.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. H.R. 4437 is completely wrong. It is too lenient on the situation. The US needs to completely seal the border and quit allowing this invasion to take place. After that, a round up and deportation of all illegals is a must(not just the Mexicans).

If you people want *real* change for Mexicans, you need to start within your own borders, not ours. Boot your President Fox out of office, that is if you can get him off President Bush's teat. He is living like a king while your families live in utter filth. If you want to march, then march. Right back accross our southern border and live off of your own land, not ours.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lo que son las cosas.
de 7 comentarios 1 sólo es que el que se queja y la manera de quejarse es algo paradójica. Yo puedo leer tu lengua, la pregunta es ¿acaso tú puedes leer la mía?
dices que ninguno de tus ancestros tuvo que brincar una barda o cruzar un río y tardaron en obtener una beca. me gustaría saber de dónde son tus ancestros. lo que no comprendo es que si sabes todo lo que sufrieron, ( And then when they got here they were shunned, discriminated against and trated like outcasts) como dices, y te atreves a negarle el derecho a los que no tienes idea lo que han sufrido para estar en este país, el llamoado de las oportunidades. creo que tienes los valores invertidos o la conformidad que te dieron precisamente tus ancentros que padecieron vejaciones, discrimanción y que fueron tratados como criminales no te importa y estas dispuesto a vengarte con aquellos que en este momento lo están sufriendo. parece que la cultura de la insensibilidad que vivimos te hace ver las cosas y lo que es peor, a las personas con odio de venganza. es una lástima que el sufrimiento de tu familia no te haga sentir solidario con quienes, como tú, quieren vivir lo que se llama el "sueño americano".
ten paz.

a quienes se mantienen en hulga de hambre. a quienes los apoyan. a los que sufren y padecen la discriminación del imperialismo.
¡ánimo! si los romanos tenían razón, aquello de v"ox populi vox dei" será una realidad al ver el triundo de lo que no son más que demandas justas y humanitaria.
en solidaridad. ¡sí se puede!

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, all this protesting is laughable, if you came here illegally, too bad, you broke the law, and you've got to pay the piper, while I'm third Generation immigrant, my Great-Grandparents came through Ellis Island LEGALLY. Why the hell should any of you get special treatment?

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help us to rally in Sacramento... Today on Sunday 3-25-06 I attended the rally from the Cathedral to the State Capital was powerful but TOO SMALL. We need some Bay Area Latino Powers and others who oppose this to come on over, YOU ARE NEEDED. We need to appear on the front steps of our State Capital again. We need to let them know that we have a lot of economic and political power in our community! Please help us organize-let us know how and when! Are we too late? Yours Truly.

By the way to the last annonymous, the ONLY real Americans are the American Indians which the Europeans massacred and stole their land and more. Funny you justify that. Maybe your people should have been sent back, since they committed such ungodly and inhumane crimes to humanity!

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's keep banning together peacefully

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im an all american and I think these marchers should march on down the I-5 all the way back to Mexico. I fought for the AMERICAN Flag and its both a sin and a crime that these foreigners think they have ANY rights under the Constitution I fought to protect. Screw All of YOU if you can't get legal status! Got Something to Say to Me? Bob @ 562-818-4843

9:24 AM  

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