Long Beach May Day 2021 Coalition Demands Accountability From Feds, City Regarding the Housing of Immigrant Children at Convention Center

6 May

Solidarity with immigrants and workers, has always been central to the annual Long Beach May Day events. This year was no exception. However, this May Day, the Long Beach May Day Coalition had another issue to confront—the federal government, with the cooperation of the city, is housing unaccompanied immigrant children, many who are indigenous at the downtown Long Beach Convention Center.

A decorated car in the parking lot of the closed Food 4 Less grocery store, on May 1, 2021 in celebration of International Workers Day at 2185 E. South Street; Poto by Barry Saks.

The event began with a caravan of about 80 cars from the parking lot of the closed Food 4 Less grocery store, at 2185 E. South Street in North Long Beach. Before the caravan, the May Day participants decorated their cars.

Among the cars and the people in the parking lot was Alfredo Carlos, a political science professor at California State University Long Beach. Carlos, who has a doctorate from the University of California Irvine, said, “My dad was a member of UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local) 770 (when I was) growing up. We’re at a grocery store that is closed down…This is something that could have completely happened to him. He worked at Sav-On (drug store) his whole life. So, I’m out here supporting the struggle of people like my dad.”

Out of the parking lot, the caravan of cars, with horns, turned right onto South Street. The caravan weaved through the streets of North Long Beach eventually ending at Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave.

About 150 people attended the hours-long, multilingual program of English and Spanish in the southeast corner of the park, near the Long Beach Vietnam Veterans Memorial featuring the “Huey” helicopter. The program consisted of music, speeches and poetry.   

An email of May 1 before the caravan from the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition contained a social media toolkit. It, in part, said, “The rapid increase of detention facilities for migrant children in our community is an ineffective response to an issue that has drawn public outrage from across the globe. It is a tragedy and a logistical failure brought on by the federal government’s decision to cling on to harmful Trump-era policies, namely the emergency regulation ‘Title 42’ implemented by the Trump Administration through the Center for Disease Control, that institutionalized family separation by allowing agents at the border to deny legal (a)sylum claims and separate families.

“Grassroots (o)rganizers have proposed creative and compassionate solutions that truly protect children and don’t rely on keeping them in cages. We must welcome those who are seeking safety from violence and persecution with care and compassion.  We must hold the City of Long Beach and the Federal government accountable for the well-being of the children at the Long Beach Convention Center through community oversight.” 

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