MH May Day March focuses on working class, immigration

Scott Forstner | The Morgan Hill TImes| Link to Article

A local community that has become increasingly active since a U.S. immigration agency moved to Morgan Hill took to the streets May 1, this time organized by a group of Gavilan College students working tandemly with Community Agency for Resources and Advocacy Services.

About 75 South County residents gathered at Galvan Park, bearing signs with different slogans supporting the working class and immigration, and marched through the downtown to their destination in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Vineyard Court.

Gavilan student George Villa, 34, a sociology major taking a social problems class, said the May Day March was part of a social learning services project that partnered with CARAS.

“We’re here to support all the working class people and be part of the May Day marches across the country,” said Villa, who was joined by several of his college classmates, representatives from various organizations throughout the area and other residents that shared in the group’s message. “We appreciate all the international workers and support undocumented immigration rights.”

Martha Jimenez, 20, a sophomore at Gavilan taking the same sociology class, said her group hoped to empower the people to show them that they have a voice and support from many others in the community.

“We want to encourage them to be part of a social movement,” said Villa, who helped organize the service learning project to benefit the working class and immigrants. “We want to bring to light the efforts and struggles of the working people and undocumented immigrants.”

CARAS program specialist Armando Franco, also the organization’s in-house artist, held a megaphone and led the group throughout their route as well as in May Day chants such as: “United we stand. We’ll march until the end.”

Upon the marchers’ arrival to the ICE office on Vineyard Court, ensemble members of El Teatro Campesino performed a historic act dealing with social injustice.

In addition, an indigenous group of native Izkalli performers spread messages of peace and healing through song, dance and burning of copal/sage. A list of guest speakers, including members of the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers and representatives of People Acting in Community Together and CARAS, was also part of the local May Day March.

“We have come out to bless the community,” said 37-year Morgan Hill resident Manuel Rocha, decked out in his traditional garb as a Izkali performer.  “We are here to unite different people whether Mexican or white....We all share in the struggle and can walk together as a group.”

Noe Yaocoatl Montoya, a longtime South County activist and performer with El Teatro Campesino, performed May 2 at the end of the May Day march in front of the ICE office. The act depicted the exploitation and mistreatment of immigrant farmworkers.

“It’s important for people to gather to draw attention” to the injustices, said Montoya, a Hollister resident. “We are all brothers and sisters. If one of us suffers, too many suffer.”

Gavilan student Nolan Golden, 20, said he immediately jumped on the idea of organizing a May Day march since he had been discriminated against himself as a member of the LGBTQ community.

“All of us really want to shed light on the unprivileged workers who are an essential part of our community,” said Golden, who leaned on his event planning background to help with the march. “Everyone in America should feel at home here.”

The local march was one of many May Day rallies throughout the country that involved millions of people standing up for workers’ and immigration rights.