On May 1st, thousands of SEIU members joined leaders from the faith, civil rights and business communities in cities across the country to protest Arizona's radical, anti-immigrant law and rally for comprehensive immigration reform. At more than 80 events in 30 states across the country, more than 500,000 people prayed, rallied, marched, and participated in acts of civil disobedience to demand Congress fix our broken immigration system.
In Washington, DC, SEIU 32BJ Capitol Area District Director Jaime Contreras was arrested with Rep Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and other protesters after engaging in a sit-in sit-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Prior to the arrests, Gutierrez, Contreras and others each held letters that spelled out the message, "Obama, stop deporting our families" and "We Are All Arizona" in memory of the families separated by our broken immigration system.
Watch Contreras's speech and the full act of civil disobedience in front of the White House below.
In Boston, SEIU Local 615 President Rocio Saenz was the keynote speaker for a crowd of about 3,000 people who marched from Central Square in East Boston, past Chelsea City Hall to Glendale Park in Everett.
In Los Angeles amidst a crowd of nearly 100,000, SEIU members chanted "no human being is illegal" as they marched to the beat of a mariachi band.
Anna Castro, a janitor and a member of SEIU United Services Workers West, joined several workers in holding up a banner that said: "With Us, America Works." "It's very important that we send a message that the kind of law that passed in Arizona cannot pass here," she said. "Immigrants helped build this country."
"I clean bathrooms and offices and I've never seen an American working alongside us. We're all immigrants. I'm an American citizen now. But I came here as an immigrant to work hard. We need to show that we will not permit an Arizona law in California or any other kind of state. A law like this would create chaos in Los Angeles and California. People would be scared to talk to the police."
In New York City, roughly 5,000 labor activists and union members filled Manhattan's Foley Square, where SEIU Executive VP Eliseo Medina was the keynote speaker. Medina urged New Yorkers to "boycott the hell out of Arizona!" Watch him speak below:
In Minnesota, three marches united in downtown Minneapolis for comprehensive immigration reform. More than 5,000 activists--including SEIU Local 26 members--came together together from and marched to the Minneapolis Convention Center before a closing rally in Loring Park.
In San Francisco, activists and union members marched through the streets to protest Arizona's new draconian law SB 1070. City Supervisor David Campos rallied the crowd and addressed the amendments to SB 1070 signed by Arizona's governor Friday, saying the changes are simply not enough. "Even though the governor was right to amend it, you can't put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. This law remains horrible. It's going to lead to racial profiling," said Campos.
Big crowds also turned out for May Day rallies in Dallas, TX (10,000), Denver, CO (10,000) and Chicago (around 20,000. Marchers sent a message to the President and Senate Republicans: Comprehensive immigration reform is good for our economy and good for America.
With the passage of SB 1070, Arizona is no longer known for its Grand Canyon - instead, Arizona is now known for passing a law which essentially legalizes racial profiling.
Let's make it official by changing the state slogan -- change the Arizona state slogan from the "Grand Canyon State," to the "Show Me Your Papers State."