Posters lined the walls of a tiny room and were scattered across tables and the floor. Members of the May Day 2010 Coalition hovered over them, markers in hand.
Three days before this year’s May Day march, organizers held a press conference and poster-making party at the City College of San Francisco Mission Campus, although organizers have been preparing for six weeks.
On Saturday, participants will march from 24th and Mission streets to Civic Center. More than 10,000 are expected, according to Pablo Rodriguez, a City College history professor and a member of the American Federation of Teachers.
While May Day rallies date back to 2006, this year has gained momentum in the wake of last month’s march in Washington, D.C. and the Arizona bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer that makes it legal to stop any immigrant and ask for identification. The law, SB 1070, goes into effect in 90 days after it was signed.
“Yesterday was the African-Americans, today is the Hispanics, tomorrow is going to be what? The Filipinos? The Asian-Americans, the poor whites?” Rodriguez said. “This is something we need to all get together [on] and unite to stop from becoming a law.”
Organizers said that the already visible and potential effects of Arizona SB 1070 are very much going to be a part of their May Day demands.
“There was initially panic and I think now we’re in the stage of outrage that there’s a law that’s codifying racial profiling and legalizing discrimination and discriminatory practices in the United States,” said Bobbi Lopez-Hasson, member of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee.
With family in Arizona, this May Day holds even more importance for her.
“I called my family right away and their first reaction was they felt terrorized — that’s the word that they used,” Lopez-Hasson said. “I think that hints a lot: The policy is not necessarily curbing the issue of immigration but is more about creating an environment where people are going to be fearful to report crimes. Immigrants are going to be fearful to be present and feel like their contributions are legitimized.”
Seven of the 11 San Francisco Board of Supervisors are calling for a non-binding boycott of Arizona-based businesses and Mayor Gavin Newsom has implemented a travel ban to Arizona for city employees.
Although no one is clear yet on the exact details of the boycott, many were adamant about the need for one.
“We’re looking for total boycott to the state of Arizona: economically, socially, politically, culturally — no ties at all,” Rodriguez said. “The next step is that we should be talking to all our neighbors to all our friends across the state first and then across the nation. Then we should come up with a position in which 49 states boycott Arizona.”
Organizers here have already been working with the immigrant community in Arizona, such as the group, Unidos en Arizona, who is calling on everyone across the country to avoid attending any Arizona Diamondbacks games.
“It’s a way to involve people in other cities,” said Linda Herrera of Unidos en Arizona. “The consequences [of SB 1070] that we’re seeing are devastating. Families are so upset, stressed out and facing an emotional crisis … People feel like they’re being hunted.”