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(en) US, New London: CCLeft SDS* May Day 2k6 Report back

Date Tue, 09 May 2006 17:09:44 +0300

CCLeft SDS organized over 80 students to join Latin@ community
groups in New London in a march for immigrant rights. Taking the street
for an hour before rallying at the soldiers and sailors' monument, we forged
bonds between the student activist community of Connecticut College and
the immigrant community of New London.
In preparation for the Mayday activities, CCLeft SDS cancelled its planned
demonstration at the recruitment centers, and consensed to join the march
for immigrant rights. This march had been organized by the Centro de La
Comunidad, New London's Latin@ community center, through local churches.
CCLeft SDS prepared with flyers put up all over campus in English and
Spanish http://www.ccleft.org/mayday2k6/campusflyeres.pdf
a campus-wide voicemail, mass invitations to a
facebook.com event, and a banner dropped off of the front of the student
center. A concert by campus band Township Rebellion (a Rage Against
the Machine coverband) played in front of our banner, and made
announcements for Monday's event. Students who wished to be involved
emailed their professors to cancel class in support of the general strike.
Some professors did just that, but the others found the student emailers
absent that Monday.

We also linked up with the Office of Volunteer and Community Service
(OVCS) to have them provide shuttles from campus to the site of the
protest. Students would meet in front of the student center at 2:45 and one
of a number of vans would take them into New London to march. We
prepared signs and an enormous banner for the march and arrived at the
student center, only to be overwhelmed by the amount of students who
wanted to participate in the march. For many of them, it was their first
protest, and they were giddy with excitement. We arrived, slowly, with 4
vans making at least 3 stops at the college to pick up more students. The
total student turnout was between 80 and 90, the largest turnout for an
off-campus event since I've been at Connecticut College. College
professors also attended, and many complimented us on our banner, which
read “Un Mundo Sin Fronteras” (A World Without Borders) and
“Si Se Puede” (It can happen) with a barbed wired brick wall being
smashed by a red fist, and said, across the bottom: SDS – Connecticut
College – CCLeft.

The community members were mostly from church groups, and were
encouraged to bring Americans flags, so there was a little confusion when
they saw our red and black flags. A nun asked me about my flag in
Spanish, and I replied that I am an anarchist, that the flag of the United
States and indeed all other flags to me represent slavery and war, and so I
carry a black flag, a flag that is no flag, in protest. She seemed
understanding, if taken aback.

One of us also carried this sign, http://www.ccleft.org/mayday2k6/mayday1.png
which was meant to be a t-shirt, but time constraints made that difficult.
The other side of the shirt. http://www.ccleft.org/mayday2k6/mayday2.png
During the rally to start the march, we hung out at the park engaging the people
around us in discussions about racist politicians and the Iraq war, before some
church leaders led the group in song: This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie.

We set out to march, but many were nervous: it was their first protest
march. CCLeft, a little more experienced in this regard than our peers,
began chanting, loudly and energetically.

“El pueblo, unido jamas sera vencido!” (the people united will
never be defeated) and “Si Se Puede” were easily recognizable, but
CCLeft SDS had made up some chants for that day as well: “Si que si,
no que no! Inmigrantes somos todos!” (hey hey ho ho, we are all
immigrants) “No que no, si que si! Inmigrantes se quedaran aqui!”
(hey hey ho ho, immigrants are staying here). Keeping in mind that the day
was not only to protest for immigrants rights, but to highlight that it was
Mayday, International Worker's Day, we chanted: “La Clase Obrera,
No tiene frontera” (the working class has no border), to amazing
amounts of support.

Throughout, we recieved compliments on our banner, and on the turnout,
and curious questions about CCLeft and SDS. Luckily, we had plenty of
(anti-)business cards to hand out that had information about CCLeft and
SDS. We handed about 30 out to people who looked on interestedly and
offered our support for future endeavors that we could undertake together.

CCLeft SDS continued to participate actively by starting other chants:
“Zapata Vive! La lucha sigue!” (zapata lives, the struggle
continues) and “No pare, sigue sigue”(don't stop, go on, go on),
and taking the first steps away from the sidewalk and into the street.
CCLeft, behind its banner, opened up the street by ignoring the visibly
nervous police (about 5 of them)and pushing into first the left lane and
then the right lane.

One woman turned to me, laughing, when a cop car had stopped in the
middle of the road, to tell me in Spanish that we should be walking over
the car, not around. The march filled the streets, and the excitement was
high, as the crowd realized its immense strength and power.

We stopped for several speeches by church leaders at City Hall, before we
continued down the street. The march ended at the soldiers and sailors
monument, where we listened to a number of speakers and community

CCLeft SDS'er and author of this summary Daniel Meltzer spoke over the
loudspeaker to praise the crowd on their numbers, their hard work, and
their beauty, and to insist that they deserved much more than the
McCain/Kennedy compromise. I also brought up the fact that we were not
alone, that millions of workers all over the planet that day were also
standing up for their rights, and that perhaps after that day a new chapter
of history was underway between the community of New London and
Connecticut College.

The march ended after this rally, and hoarse and excited, we took the
shuttles back home.

This was the best turnout of a Mayday event in recent memory in the
Southeastern CT area. The movement for the civil rights of immigrants
will become more and more important as allies become more involved in
their struggle, and as immigrant communitues realize how much this
struggle overlaps with class struggle, our struggle too will become more
important. NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA, and the spread of neoliberal global
capitalist hegemony is making countries outside of the US unlivable and
driving people from their respective countries into the US so that they can
survive. In our struggle against capitalism, we recognize economic
refugees as such, and must fight alongside of them in their struggle for
rights to free movement in a world without borders. Our struggles are
enriched by the other's experience, and we have a lot to learn. This
Mayday was a huge leap in that direction, and the bond can only
strengthen after this.

Pictures of that day can be found here
Daniel Meltzer
Copied from infoshop.org
* An antiauthoritarian anticapitalist initiative
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