Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What they don't tell you is sometimes more important than what they do

Here is a copy of the Sun Times article on the immigration march yesterday. In red I will highlight what they should have explained further, then give you the explanation in blue

Massive march: 'We are not a plague'

May 2, 2006


They came by themselves. They came in groups. They spoke Spanish. They spoke Polish. They spoke Arabic.

They banged traditional Korean drums. They waved banners proclaiming "We are America."

They did the wave on Jackson Boulevard.

And no matter what the culture, all had the same message.

"We are not criminals here," said Rodrigo Avilles of Brighton Park. "We are not a plague."

Hundreds of thousands of pro-immigration demonstrators flooded into downtown Chicago on Monday for the second time in less than eight weeks to put a face on the city's immigrant community -- and to flex a little muscle.

"What would the city of Chicago be without the immigrants here today?" Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) asked a crowd gathering at Union Park on the Near West Side.

Gutierrez led a chant, "Today we march. Tomorrow we vote."

'Peaceful,' zero arrests

Just how many people turned out is open to debate. The official police estimate was nearly 400,000, but organizers insisted the number was closer to 700,000. Still, no one was questioning the significance.

"It was the largest march I've seen in my career," Chicago Police Deputy Supt. Charles Williams said. "It was very peaceful, very well-organized."

Police made no arrests
At Jackson and Clinton, marchers were jumping out of line and relieving themselves in the alley in full view of anyone who walked by, though 7-11 was allowing people to use their employee bathroom. This included high school age girls. When a policeman was asked if he could make them stop, he said "are you kidding, there's a half a million people here"
, and fire department paramedics treated about 10 people for problems from asthma to fatigue, officials said. The CTA stayed on a rush-hour schedule all day to cope with crowds. And Metra brought in an extra 13,000 passengers.

It started Monday morning in parks on the West Side and ended more than eight hours later with a two-hour rally in Grant Park.

It began here

It all followed a similar effort on March 10, a march and rally of more than 100,000 that organizers say helped jump-start the pro-immigration cause.

"It gives me a proud feeling that a national movement began in Chicago because Chicago has always been ahead of the curve," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told the crowd Monday morning.

The spark was a bill that passed the U.S. House in December. Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the measure sought to make illegal immigration a felony, tighten border security and impose other crackdowns. Since then, Congress has continued to debate the issue.

Capitalizing on the furor over the Sensenbrenner bill, a variety of immigrant groups, churches and other organizations helped put together Monday's march. About 2,000 people came from Elgin, Cicero and Aurora in Service Employees International Union Local 73 buses.

"Immigration rights are also worker rights," said local president Christine Boardman.

The rally was one of dozens held across the nation Monday, although Chicago's appeared to be the largest. Unlike in other cities, the Chicago organizers were not calling for a boycott of schools and businesses. But so many workers wound up taking the day off that Pilsen's usually bustling 18th Street business strip looked like a ghost town, with stores and shops closed as far the eye could see.

Near the front of the march were 26 workers from Mexico who were arrested and are now facing deportation charges after a raid at a local IFCO plant two weeks ago.

"We're all trying to think positively and hope there will be some justice," said Flor Crisostomo, 27, who has been in the United States for six years and was one of the workers rounded up.

The bulk of the demonstrators appeared to be Latino, with many carrying both American flags and Mexican flags or banners.

"Si, se puede!" they chanted, Spanish for "Yes, we can" -- the mantra of the late Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

But dozens of other racial and ethnic groups were on hand.

People carried woven bags with "Ecuador" written on them, wore T-shirts celebrating Ireland, wrapped themselves in the red and white Polish flag and sported "I am not a terrorist" T-shirts.

'Just walking in the dark'

"This will turn everything for good," said Ladyslaw Paluszek, 85, a North Side resident who came here from Poland 28 years ago.

A Nigerian immigrant who came here 10 years ago, Efua Enaholo, 25, said African Americans and Latinos face similar challenges, including lack of jobs.

"We're two different people just walking in the dark that soon will collide if we don't come up with a common agenda," she said.

Omar Lopez, who helped organize both demonstrations, said Monday's event was much more diverse than the March 10 rally. "We're very satisfied with the turnout," said Lopez, 61, a Humboldt Park resident and member of the Institutes of Mexicans Abroad.

The Voice of America wrote an article that mentions the origin of The Institute for Mexicans Abroad. According to Voice of America, "Mexican politicians have raised hell about the failure of the United States to legalize existing unlawful aliens. That is, the idea that they're doing us a favor by sending us people who will work for modest wages. And without such people, they argue, the U.S. economy would grind to a halt," says Grayson.

A number of Mexican lawmakers have come out in favor of the White House's proposed "guest worker" program and other measures that would make it easier for Mexicans to cross the border and work in the United States.

In recent years, the Mexican government has become even more involved in the U.S. political process. Manuel Orozco at the Inter-American Dialogue says Mexican President Vincente Fox has established an entity called the Institute for Mexicans Living Abroad.

"The government wants to establish a relationship with its diaspora, and in that relationship, leverage their political capital to lobby the U.S. government on policy issues dealing with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans," says Orozco."

Outside the Dirksen Federal Building, a 35-year-old Polish American waved a large Polish flag over the procession.

"Viva Polonia," shouted a man with a Mexican flag marching by.

"Viva Mexico," the Polish American shouted back.

'We claim victory'

Very few counterprotesters showed up. Jim Kreamer, 62, of Naperville, was one of them, standing outside Grant Park holding a handmade sign that read "I ?254-240? Illegals" with the I and L in "Illegals" crossed out.

Kreamer and his confusing sign did not spark any anger.

"A lot of people are giving me the thumbs up, but I'm not sure they understand," he said.

At Grant Park, an ocean of people blanketed the southeast corner in a scene reminiscent of the protests of the 1960s. "We claim victory," Jessica Aranda, of the Latino Union of Chicago, told the crowd. "This is a historic first step."

After the speeches, Cardinal Francis George and other priests led the crowd in prayers in Polish, Spanish and English. Next came a moment of silence to commemorate all who died crossing the border or in other immigration mishaps.

They sang "Amazing Grace" and "The Lord's Prayer" in Spanish and released five white doves.

"God bless us all," one of the priests said, closing the rally about 5 p.m.

Contributing: Scott Fornek, Maureen O'Donnell, Lisa Donovan and Abdon Pallasch

As we watched person after person walk by with the American flag attached like a Superman cape, or wrapped around their necks like a boa constrictor, or just wrapped around them like a blanket, I asked a cop passing by if they could enforce the you-can't-wear-our-flag law. He said, "Our orders are to walk. That's it. But I know what you mean. I just got back from Iraq. I'm military."

Friends and I recounted how, in the 60's we were arrested for wearing flags, turning them into coats, purses, etc. The CPD had no problem arresting people at the Sly no-concert or at the Democratic Convention. This was costing us beaucoup bucks in overtime. Their original plan had officers in uniform as well as riot gear. The riot gear got tossed. Why? Why are the police under orders NOT to enforce the law against people who are illegally (though many were legal residents who I doubt had the flag wrapped around them)in the country disrespecting the very flag that they proclaim to want to represent and pledge allegiance to.

The next question is: Who was really behind these rallies. They were so well organized, could it be that it was the Mexican government and it's new insitute? I was wondering how much any of these people cared about the plight of the other immigrant groups or were they just being used to prove it isn't a Mexian government thing.

Proved nothing to me. How about you? Would you have liked to have gotten the background on this organization from the mainstream press? What else would you have liked to know?


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