Solidarity with immigrants, refugees and workers of all backgrounds
Justice advocates across the state made a great show of strength and solidarity for May Day 2017. Activists, immigrant and refugee families, labor movement leaders, faith leaders and people of widely diverse backgrounds turned out in the hundreds in seven cities throughout Michigan. Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Rochester Hills, Pontiac and Battle Creek were all sites of events that ranged from marchers to meals to uphold the American ideals of family unity, sanctuary for those seeking safety and support for workers. While these values are commonsense, they have been under attack by the Trump administration that’s inspired a big jump in hate crimes. Michigan families are pushing back.
Detroit’s #RiseUP May Day took place in Clark Park and the labor movement showed up in solidarity with immigrant families and workers.
“SEIU members across the country are standing up for our families and our communities. I’m proud my union fights for healthcare, fair wages, and immigrant communities,” said Henrietta Ivey, home care worker and SEIU member. “We are holding elected officials accountable — we won’t let the current administration take away the rights we’ve fought so hard for. We will continue to build a society that works for all working families.”
“It’s only when we stand together, native born with immigrant and refugee, people of every gender expression, color and faith that we can beat back bigotry,” said Adonis Flores of Michigan United. “As a gay Latino that has benefited from reforms of the Obama administration, I have gained strength from the constant show of resistance to the Trump administration’s racism.”
Grand Rapid’s Micah organized “A Day Without an Immigrant” that display the power of immigrant families by their stepping away from normal activities for the day.
Gema Lowe of the Micah Center stressed the supportive nature of the Grand Rapids area. “We’ve continually fought for the dignity and respect of every member of our community for years, and the policies that we’ve seen come down from this administration have only energized us. This movement will not stop demonstrating for the rights of the undocumented, the rights of our workers or the rights of any of our neighbors. Today demonstrates our resolve.”
MI Latinx Info Cluster organized Lansing’s May Day event in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives and ACLU Lansing. It took place on the steps of the State Capitol Building fresh on the heels of Lansing taking the step to stand with immigrant families and declare itself a sanctuary city.
Ed Montemayor, the event’s organizer and Cofounder of MI Latinx Info Cluster, noted that the turnout for Lansing was heartening. “For over 100 days, the capital city has been dealing with the effects of Trump’s blundering, xenophobic policies. Seeing this many participants here on the heels of Lansing openly declaring itself a Sanctuary City gives us hope. We the people are indeed indivisible. Our coordinated actions of resistance will protect families at risk of the administration’s dangerous actions.”
Sergio Martinez, a Michigan United board member and speaker at the event, agreed. “We’re going to continue fighting the awful measures that have been such a burden to our communities, whether in the courts, in local government or in the streets. It’s the least we can do for our immigrant and Muslim neighbors.”
Kalamazoo’s “Day Without an Immigrant” activity held in Bronson Park focused on the needs of children and their families.
Christine Lewis of Michigan United specifically noted the event’s focus on Kalamazoo-area schools. “The ugly policies that we’ve seen from our federal government in the last 100 days specifically affect the children of this city, too. Today Kalamazoo demonstrated that we will stand up in defense of the most vulnerable of this city: children, the undocumented and the workers who make our neighborhoods run. This community is undivided, and we will not stand for this erosion of our rights and dignities.”
At least 250 events took place in more than 200 cities. Together, they called for an end to the Trump Administration’s ramped up deportations, an end to the Muslim ban, and no money for the border wall. Instead, organizers expressed support for an inclusive democracy.