May Day Workers’ Protest

May Day is international workers day, and was also recognized this year as a “Day Without Immigrants:” Huegla/Strike. The current president also named May 1st this year “Loyalty Day;” it’s loyal to speak truth to power, eh?

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Kansas City’s May Day protest was sponsored by “Stand Up KC,” the local community initiative for the fight for $15 dollars an hour minimum wage. It was also sponsored by Indivisible KC, a progressive movement in U.S. politics springing from recent 2016 election.

Rally

Cosecha was introduced to the crowd as a leader in the march as well, a nonviolent movement working to achieve “permanent protection, dignity and respect” for the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.

A woman came to the stage, and with tears recounted that her mother was deported just last week. She had a green card, and everything was supposed to be in order. Because of a minor mistake in the paperwork, her mother was “taken away in shackles like a criminal.

“My mother is not a criminal,” the woman cried out to the crowd. “What happened to my mother was inhumane. Families belong together, and reform is needed.”

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$23 an hour has been determined as living wage for a single parents and child in the US. Our MC for the afternoon was fast food worker making $8 an hour who was a single mother of two, and was currently homeless because she was unable to pay her rent even though she was working more than full time.

We also heard from a black woman, Pamela, who is a blogger and co-director of the new directive, Repro-Action. Reproductive oppression hits women of color hardest, and it’s time to start listening to the people that are affected.

“We must be intersectional, or it will all be a farce,” Pamela stated unapologetically. “Oppression is intersectional, and true liberation requires intersectional organizing.”

The rally ended with a speaker from the local NAACP leader as a cop helicopter appears above.

“No one ever thought woman would get the right to vote. No one ever thought Martin Luther King would lead a movement and win voting rights. A few years ago no one thought low wage workers could raise the minimum wage. Let’s let these communities take a seat at the table, and let the welfare of the people be supreme law.”

Taking the Streets

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There is joy in the resistance. After all the speakers finished, the crowd was fired up as you hope for a rally to do, and we started off toward the streets of downtown. And yet, it wasn’t really clear if we were taking the streets or using the sidewalks.

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Following the crowd in choosing the streets, protesters were suddenly assaulted by police cars sirens and speakers shouting, “Get out of the road, NOW.” The protest didn’t get out of the road at first. People looked at one another and laughed. It was a big group, what were they going to do? More police cars came, and became more aggressive so the protesters sidled back toward the sidewalks.

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Photo Via

There was power and energy in the air yesterday, with immigrants, low wage workers and allies marching through the streets. I was reminded of a quote by Rose Schneiderman, a prominent women labor union leader in the early 1900s who said, “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” Schneiderman was implying that a worker’s right was something higher than basic sustenance, and we all deserve dignity and respect. The mood of the day had very much to do with the bread and roses.

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