L.A. Youth talked to three students who attended today’s immigrant rights rally in downtown Los Angeles, which drew 40,000 to 60,000 people, according to estimates in the Los Angeles Times. Demonstrators were strongly opposed to a recently signed law in Arizona that requires police to check the status of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed an amendment to the law stating that police could only ask for identification during “a lawful stop, detention or arrest.”
When did your day start?
Karina: We met up at school at 8 a.m. and got to Olympic and Broadway, where the march started, at 8:30. We saw a few people organizing and we met up with the Association of Raza Educators. We had to wait to get it started. It was energized. A lot of people were chanting. It was blocks and blocks of people.
Jasmine: One of the organizers said that many movements have been led by young people. He was looking for volunteers. He looked at us and said, “You students, do you want to participate?” So I led some chants. “The people united will never be defeated” and “Ain’t no power, like the power of the youth because the power of the youth don’t stop.”
It was my favorite thing today to talk on the bullhorn and be a leader, because I saw everybody advocating for one thing—justice.
Karina: At the front of the march there was a huge crowd of people with flags and a sign that said “revolution” with lots of flags on the sign. We marched all the way to City Hall. It was very calm.
Jasmine got in front of the march and started leading us with a bullhorn and she was chanting.
Jasmine: I still can’t believe I did that. I felt like I had an opportunity to share a bit of myself.
Why did you want to march?
Gabriel: We were trying to represent our people. We want it to be known we’re not going to sit back without fighting for what we want.
Karina: The law in Arizona will lead to racial profiling. How can you use race to tell whether someone has documents or not?
When I was walking all I was thinking about was trying to put all of my feelings into my chant. I was marching with the Mexican flag. I carried it because I’m from there. There were so many flags, including Cuban and Salvadorian. I have never seen so many people from this many places join together for one cause. It was awesome to see different groups and ethnicities help the cause of immigration.
Gabriel: I just want the criminalization of immigrants to stop. Everybody who has come to the United States was an immigrant at one time. Everybody. To say to one group of people that they should all be put away is just wrong. We are all created equal.
There were so many people crowding the streets, there were so many signs. The one thing that they were fighting for was to oppose the new Arizona law that [I feel] says if you look like you’re undocumented they can detain you.
Jasmine: They try to justify what they’re doing by saying they’re looking for drug dealers and criminals. But all they’re going to be doing is pulling over Latinos and asking if they have papers. If you look Latino, they assume you’re undocumented. … I want to see everyone treated equally—for parents to not have their children grow up without them [because the parents have been deported]. Immigrants are taught to be patriotic, but how can they do that when they feel so much hate from a country that’s taking away their family?
I’m glad that we had an opportunity to have a voice. That we could come together and not be divided by the color of our skin. There were Asians, African-Americans, Mexicans, Salvadorians, white people, too.
What do you want to see happen?
Karina: Obama was saying there would be immigration reform. Where is it? He hasn’t done anything for us. Obama is not doing what he promised. I want him to act now, instead of too late. Families are already split up.