Community activists and performers united for the annual May Day rally at Mariachi Plaza in protest to demand reforms in policing, immigration and education policies in Los Angeles.
Activists representing organizations like Centro CSO , Black Lives Matter, Eastside PCP and many more delivered a common message of social justice for the residents who marched from different starting points in Los Angeles to unite at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.
At the rally’s forefront was the legalization of all the undocumented families living in Los Angeles and across the nation.
Immigration policies in the U.S. have remained a hot topic of debate among government officials at all levels. The Biden administration is being criticized by immigration activists for his handling of unaccompanied children arriving at U.S. borders and holding them in interim facilities while they await to be reunited with their families.
The previous administration caused national outrage for the conditions in which immigrants were held for months while awaiting their fate under the so-called “zero tolerance” policy enforced by the Trump administration.
In an attempt to avoid keeping migrant children in the crowded detaining facilities, the federal government has provided interim shelters in Texas and California for migrant children. But immigration activists feel the federal government is not doing enough to stop the border crisis and demand legalization for all families.
Last month the Long Beach Convention Center welcomed over 100 migrant children as part of a federal government program providing interim shelter for unaccompanied minors arriving at U.S. borders.
In Pomona, the Fairplex complex’s massive capacity is expected to welcome up to 2,500 migrant children, according to a recent report by KTLA. The first group of 250 migrant children is already staying and being cared for at the Fairplex.
The Alliance to Defend Immigrants is hosting a virtual meeting on May 5 at 7 p.m. to further discuss current immigration policies.
The murder of George Floyd by ex-officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently found guilty, brought national attention to policing policies across the nation. Protestors at the May Day rally advocated for police reform and for defunding of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Residents also called for justice in officer-involved shootings in the Los Angeles area.
One case that drew considerable attention at the rally is the ongoing investigation of 21-year-old Anthony Daniel Vargas who was killed by two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies while searching for robbery suspects at a housing community in East Los Angeles in 2018.
The Los Angeles Times reports that investigators found a loaded semi-automatic .22 caliber pistol underneath Vargas’ body and that the gun had not been fired. But Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred told The Times that Vargas had a gun in his hand when deputies got into a violent struggle with him.
Vargas’ family members say he worked in a church warehouse, led bible study groups and had a passion for fishing. The family believes the gun found underneath Vargas’ body was placed there by deputies, a shocking allegation. However, in an investigation by CBS News earlier this year, some deputies alleged that officers affiliated with gangs within the department are known to plant guns on suspects to justify deadly shootings.
The whistleblowers allege that gangs exist within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in areas that serve predominantly African American and Latino communities. One of the alleged gangs within department is known as the “Banditos.”
“It’s based out of East LA, but you know members that have become Banditos in East LA have been promoted and they spread all over the County,” one deputy told CBS.
Another deputy makes a shocking allegation to CBS reporter Maria Elena Salinas:
“There’s been multiple occasions where they [officers allegedly affiliated with the Banditos gang] say, ‘Hey, we got a guy that has a gun and he is running from us.’ In reality that person never had a gun.”
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva has publicly denied allegations of gangs and cliques within his department.
During the May Day rally, organizations fighting for fair and equal education urged those in attendance to demand more from Los Angeles Unified School District Board members.
“Our public schools are suffering because charter schools are taking a big portion of our funds away,” a speaker from Eastside Padres Contra la Privatizacion (Eastside parents against school privatization), a community group urging other parents to stop the re-election of school board member Monica Garcia and to demand that elected board members are supporters of parents, students and teachers that attend public schools.
Eastside PCP also urged parents to support them in electing a new superintendent who supports LAUSD public schools and is against the privatization of schools.