More than a thousand people came out for the May Day Rise Up ABQ Rally at Tiguex Park, which featured live music, dancing, children’s activities and speakers who addressed what they called assaults on the rights of workers, immigrants and teachers, and oppressive polices coming out of Washington.
About 40 organizations sponsored the rally, including political groups, the American Civil Liberties Union, health care organizations, labor and teachers unions, grass-roots immigrant-led groups and more, said Marco Nuñez, a spokesman for El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, one of the chief co-sponsoring organizations.
Earlier in the day, a group of protesters from the New Mexico Dream Team stood in a mock jail cell in front of Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court to denounce what the group called “racist, anti-immigrant attacks” by the Trump administration.
The Dream Team is a statewide network of immigrant youths and families who are advocating for immigrants’ rights.
Other May Day rallies in New Mexico took place in Santa Fe, Gallup, Hobbs and Portales.
The local and national May Day rallies are part and parcel of International Workers Day events. In the United States, celebrations often pay tribute to labor unions, and in particular the struggle of workers in Chicago who in the late 1800s fought for a 40-hour workweek.
“We’re carrying on a legacy of workers rights,” Nuñez said. “We live in extraordinary times. There are some pretty profound attacks on the immigrant community, who are workers.” And as workers, he noted, undocumented employees in New Mexico contributed $66.3 million in local and state taxes in 2013.
“The fearmongering that came out of the Trump candidacy has leapt into his presidency,” he said. “Trump continues amplifying a message that is divisive instead of uniting, and this event today is the antithesis of that.”
The courthouse site of the Dream Team rally was selected because “we have had confirmed cases of community members who have shown up for their court dates and have been detained and picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and then secretly deported,” said Yazmin Irazoqui Ruiz, a Dream Team spokeswoman.
“We are speaking against the criminalization of our community and the detentions and deportations of our community, because this is our home and we’re here to stay,” she said.
Protesters carried signs saying “No human is illegal” and “Resist, fight back,” and chanted “undocumented and unafraid.”
Ruiz told onlookers they cannot remain apathetic. “You may not agree with the racist agenda of the people who are running our government, but by staying silent and doing nothing you are perpetuating racism, you are perpetuating the criminalization of our people.”
Rebecca Schreiber said she attended the rally “because I support immigrant rights and immigrant justice.”
“I think that immigrants are being scapegoated as the cause of America’s problems, she said.”