One million hit the streets to demand Justice for Immigrants; Preliminary report from New York City's Great American Boycott
May 1, 2006--More than
1 million immigrants and supporters skipped work and school and took to the
streets of New York City today in support of immigration rights.
As the day began, many
businesses throughout the region remained closed, as owners observed the May
1 Great American Boycott -- a day of no work, no School, no shopping, and
More than 2,000 students
walked out of CUNY schools and rallied in Washington
Square Park before marching
to Union Square.
Although the rally in
Union Square was scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm, by 2:00 pm the Park
was already packed to capacity.
By 4:00 pm, the crowd
had begun to spill into the streets.
Speakers included: Jesse
Jackson, City Council members Charles Barron and Kendall Stewart, Siu
Hin Lee of the National May 1 Network in Los Angeles, Hector
Castillo of Organaziones Communitaras
del Bronx, Carlos Canales of the Long Island Workplace Project, Berna Ellorin of the Justice for
Philippines Coalition, Michael Andrade Lalan of
Break the Chains Alliance/Nat'l Mobilization Against Sweatshops, Nellie Bailey
of the Harlem Tenants Council, Victor Toro of La Pena del Bronx, Brenda Stokley
of the Million Worker March, Roger Touissant of
the TWU, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Luis
Barrios, Larry Holmes of the International Action Center, actress Susan Sarandon,
Chuck Mohan of the Guyanese Workers United, and many other represesentatives of immigrant, labor, and community organizations.
recently released from jail for defending transit workers' pensions, was greeted
with thunderous applause and shouts of "TWU!
TWU!" Touissant stressed the link between attacks on immigrants
and attacks on unions.
called for amnesty and denounced the racist, anti-immigrant legislation in
Many linked the struggle
against the war with the struggle for immigrant rights, with several saying,
"Immigrants are not criminals, Bush is a criminal."
As the rally continued,
thousands continued to pour into Union Square, filling the surrounding streets
and sidewalks as far north as 18th St. Arial shots show a crowd far overflowing the entire Union
Square and surrounding streets. Because of the intense crush of people it
bacame a safety issue and the march stepped off
before 5pm rather than the scheduled 6pm.
The spirited march heades
south on Broadway to Fulton Sq., directly behind the Federal Building, home
of the Department of Homeland Security, INS, and FEMA.
As the march reached
Foley Square and the closing rally began, many thousands in Union
Square had not even begun the march.
The march stretched nearly
3 miles and over 25 blocks from Union Square to Foley square. As the front of
the march was reaching Foley Square it was still coming out of Union Square.
It was literally wall
to wall on the streets including sidewalks on both sides and the entire street.
The end of the march did not reach Foley square until after 8:30 pm.
The massive turnout of
more than a million people today is was the result of a
grass-roots, immigrant-led effort, with a total budget of less than
The coalition that organized
today's rally and march, the NYC May 1 Coalition, announced that it plans
to continue to build on the success of the day, and is holding a planning
meeting this Wednesday, May 3, and Teamsters Local 808 in Long Island City.
A regional conference is also planned for June 17 in NYC.