Latino groups who were taking to the streets in cities all across the country Friday for the annual May Day marches were expanding their message to include calls for better community and police relations and solutions to issues of police brutality and injustice following the unrest in Baltimore.
May Day is the day activists celebrate International Workers Day. It is celebrated worldwide on May 1 of every year. In recent years, Latinos have joined not only to call for workers’ rights but also the rights of immigrants, including those who are undocumented.
But following the events of the last week, Hispanic civil rights and community leaders expanded their message to stand in solidarity with the African American community.
“We are joining forces with the African American community to rally in Baltimore against the injustice and to call for reforms that deal with the issues of police brutality,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA.
On Friday, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor announced charges against six police officers involved in the arrest of Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody and later died. The charges include murder and manslaughter.
Though Torres said he was “very, very happy” to hear the news, he said reforms are still needed. His group was joining other organizations in a march to Baltimore City Hall to demand that legal reforms be put in place to ensure police officers are held accountable for misconduct.
Meanwhile, similar marches were being held in cities across the country. In Los Angeles, Latinos were joining a diverse coalition of groups to march in support of workers’ rights and the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Miguel Paredes, membership coordinator of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said Latinos and undocumented immigrants suffer some of the same injustices as African Americans when it comes to interaction with the police.
“A lot of times, these interactions are not respectful of people’s civil rights,” Paredes said. “And so we hope and call for an end to police brutality. We also call for peace in Baltimore from the police, especially, but also from the community.”
The march in Los Angeles was beginning at Chinatown's Dragon Gates and ending at the Los Angeles City Hall. The intent of the march is to also call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and for the implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration, which were put on hold by a federal judge in Texas.
“We hope today will be a peaceful demonstration in support of workers, immigrants and young black lives,” Paredes added.