According to Illegal Immigrant Protest dot com, May 5th and 6th were a “National Illegal Immigrant Protest Rally Days.” Destroy the Border Coalition called for people to go out and counter the racist message of the rallies, saying, “The people who do the work in a community are entitled to live with dignity and without fear of violence and deportation. Undocumented workers are economic refugees from the countries that the U.S. has been exploiting for hundreds of years.”
On May 5th (Cinco de Mayo) several dozen flag waving americans lined a short stretch of Kiely Blvd in front of Central Park in Santa Clara. The american flag wavers were holding an, “anti-illegal immigrant protest calling for secure borders, decreased migration to the US and no amnesty for illegal immigrants.” In response to the nationwide call for “anti-illegal immigrant protests” the Destroy the Border Coalition called for people to counter-demonstrate against the racist message of the rallies in Santa Clara and says, “the people who do the work in a community are entitled to live with dignity and without fear.”
I arrived at the park at about 5:00pm and had a great conversation with a few girls who came across the rally on their way home from high school. They spoke against the racist nature of the rally and in favor of human rights for immigrants and all people. They also told me that a group of people called the Black Berets had just left the park. The Black Berets, a diverse group of people, were demonstrating for immigrant rights and against a nationalist element of racism known as “nativism.”
After speaking with the girls for a while, I headed over to flag wavers to check out their messages, including the american flag contact lenses worn by Santa Clara’s “anti-illegal immigrant protest” organizer Roberta Allen.
Shortly there after, I got permission to use an american flag which was laying under a tree. My fellow freedom fighters became very upset with me as I stood next to them and flew my flag upside down to indicate our nation in distress. I was quickly approached by a women who held a cardboard sign in front of me and my flag. She was also using her flag pole to push my flag. A Santa Clara police officer told her not to touch my flag or she would go to jail. The cop stated that I had every right to my flag just as they had the right to fly theirs. This really upset the other flag wavers and they complained to the police officers that I should be removed.
More Santa Clara police officers quickly approached me and told me that I had to move about 100 feet. I told them I was not protesting the “anti-illegal immigrant protest” and that I was fighting for our freedom. The cops said that they, “were not here to debate me” and that I had to move further down the sidewalk. As instructed, I moved to the other side of a traffic light and continued to fly an upside flag.
Several people in cars demonstrated their appreciation of the upside down flag by giving me the thumbs-up, flashing peace signs and holding a sing out a passenger window which read, “We Are Not Criminals! Don’t Judge Me. Judge Yourself First!”
A young mother also spoke out in support of her “undocumented” husband and human rights for all people.
Before leaving the demonstration, a young girl happily approached me with some fliers encouraging me to show on Sunday for another demonstration in support of immigrant rights.
On May 6th flag waving americans lined a short stretch of Kiely Blvd in front of Central Park in Santa Clara for their second day of an “anti-illegal immigrant protest.” Another group of demonstrators held signs in support of immigrant rights. One sign reminded people about the first “illegal immigrants” on December 21st, 1620 when William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims land on and colonized what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Signs, chants and words I overheard included:
“We don’t need no papers. We’ve got blood.”
“We are America”
“We pay taxes”
“No human is illegal”
A women named Graciela, speaking english and Spanish, said that she was not the only person who wanted to demonstrate in support of immigrant rights, but that most people were working one of their three jobs and that they could not leave. She said that many Americans have unemployment and do not accept jobs that pay 6 and 7 dollars per hour, but that immigrants do work these jobs, pay taxes and often speak two languages.
Graciela is from Peru and came into the US illegally after traveling through many countries. Now she is legally working as a federal employee in San Jose hospital. While at work, Graciela translates english and Spanish in emergency situations and helps to save lives.
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