Over 200 activists, union members, and community groups marched peacefully from City Hall through the Mission on Friday to mark International Worker’s Day. The march, which coincided with San Francisco’s citywide minimum wage increase to $12.25 an hour, snaked down Mission Street to a final rally at the 24th Street Bart Plaza.
Protesters spoke out against police violence, economic inequality and violence against migrants, and urged unity among workers.
Activists came from a variety of backgrounds and organizations.
“We have to fight to change our situation,”said Jaime Arabia, a member of the Teamsters Local 665, whose truck led the march. Arabia tied the event to historical social justice movements. “A lot of the things of the 60’s are happening today: Police brutality, inequality, affordable housing.”
Activist Rudy Buenrostro, 20, a Stockton resident, felt a sense of urgency after the killing of Freddie Grey in Baltimore, and that city’s subsequent upheaval.
“All lives matter, but lately it seems like black and brown lives are suffering the most,” Buenrostro says. “People of different races and colors are here: Hmong, Vietnamese, Latino. We’re uniting as one to stop the violence and change things.”
Others march in support of migrant workers and the possible inadvertent drug trafficking coercion of Mary Jane Velasco.
Emily Jimenez was among them. “I’m here because immigrants are treated like criminals,” Jimenez says. “They just came out here to work. We eat all the food that they plant.”
Rapper Esai commemorated loved ones lost to border violence.
— Mission Local (@MLNow) May 2, 2015
At 16th street plaza, activists call attention to plans for a large development planned for the 16th Street and Mission area, a construction activists have dubbed the “Monster in the Mission.”
“Greed! Greed!” they shouted.
As the protest arrived at 24th street, it was greeted by Aztec dancers as well as at least 30 police officers and several police vehicles.
“All these racist cops, we don’t need them!” one protestor chanted. A member of the SEIU, however, thanked the police for maintaining a peaceful march.
Speeches by community organizers and union leaders were amplified from the Teamsters Local 665 truck that led the march: “We marched from city hall, where they say the power is held. We recognize that the power is here, with the people.”
To close the event, students from 67 Sueños spoke out against brutality of violence by US border agents. Jackie Garcia, 20, graduated from the program and now mentors undocumented high school students through the organization. “We teach [students] political education, learning about the culture, and really help them bring their voice to the debate,” she said.
By 6:30, the crowd dispersed and traffic resumed along Mission street.