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Long Beach: Activists Celebrate May Day 2018 with March and Rallies

4 May
May Day 2018

Photo by Barry Saks

About 150 people, many being youth of color, on Tuesday, May 1, marched from the north end of Caesar E. Chavez Park to Long Beach City Hall, to celebrate May Day and to highlight a range of issues from protecting the local wetlands from oil drilling to protecting the rights of workers, immigrants and tenants.

The May Day Long Beach Coalition, which characterizes itself, according to its website, as “a coalition of “organizations united for workers’ rights, immigrant rights, tenant rights, and black & (sic) brown unity,” organized the march and the rallies at each end of the march.

George Funmaker, May Day 2018, Long Beach

George Funmaker, co-founder of Red Earth Defense, speaks, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Caesar Chavez Park for Long Beach May Day 2018; photo by Barry Saks

One of the first speakers at the park was George Funmaker, who characterizes himself as a co-founder Red Earth Defense.  Funmaker, who was introduced as an indigenous activist, began his remarks by acknowledging those present were on land, which the Tongva people once inhabited.  He said as indigenous activist, his focus is on the land.  He added, “When we talk about justice and equality we first have to tell the true story, the true history of this country, what it was built on, on genocide and oppression and greed.”

Another speaker at the park was Jonaya Chadwick, who spoke for the need for renter’s rights.  Chadwick, who was identified as being with Housing Long Beach, said she has lived in the same Long Beach location for 19 years with her disabled mother who lives on a fixed income of about $900 each month.  Chadwick said, “(D)ue to no rent control or just-cause eviction in Long Beach, me and my mom will be displaced sooner or later.”

Local trade union activist, Nerexda Soto spoke for UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, as she did last year.  However, this year she also emceed.  Soto reminded the audience the Long Beach City Council voted down in September 2017 a proposal for panic buttons for hotel workers.  In response, she said the union and its supporters have launched a ballot-initiative campaign and are collecting signatures.  Soto said, “If anybody knows UNITE HERE and our coalition, we don’t give up…We can’t trust the city council and the mayor, so we’re doing it ourselves.”

Xenia Arriola, representing Gabriela Los Angeles, followed Soto. Arriola divided her time, between reading aloud a statement and then performing her poem.  Arriola, in part, said, “I am a member of Gabriela Los Angeles.  We are grassroots Filipino women’s organization and we have members here in Long Beach…Los Angeles….We also have 200 chapters all over the world.  We fight for the rights and liberation of the Filipino people here in the United States and in the Philippines.  As Gabriela, we want to share about the conditions that migrant-working woman face here and abroad.  Many Filipino migrant workers are sent to places where they are overworked, underpaid and abused.”

After reading her statement, Arriola performed her spoken-word poem.




According to the Gabriela-USA website, the term, Gabriela, has two origins: first, the initials stand for “General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Education, Leadership, and Action” and second, Gabriela is “named in honor of Gabriela Silang, the first Filipino woman to lead a revolt against the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.”



After Arriola spoke and performed, the crowd marched to Long Beach City Hall and chanted.  They chanted: No justice, no peace, no racist police; No Trump, No KKK, No racist USA; Get up, get down, there’s a people’s movement in this town; From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go; Black lives, they matter here; Education, not deportation; Move ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), get out the way, get out the way; If we don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace; The people united, will never be divided; No wall, no fear, immigrants are welcome here; One struggle, one fight, housing is a human right.



On arrival, a second rally was held outside city hall,

Near the beginning at the rally at the park, the member organizations of the coalition were read aloud.  They were Anakbayan Long Beach, Act Now to Stop War and Racism (Los Angeles), Black Lives Matter Long Beach, California Faculty Association, Clergy Laity United for Economic Justice, Coalition for Latino Advancement at LBCC (Long Beach City College), DAYS, Filipino Migrant Center, Gabriela Los Angeles, Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization, Housing Long Beach, Long Beach Tenants Union, Justice for Port Truck Drivers Campaign, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Little Brown Church, Long Beach Area Peace Network, Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, Long Beach G.R.R.R.L. Collective, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Palestinian  Youth Movement, Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope), Stop Fracking Long Beach, UNITE HERE (Local 11, in the hotel industry) and Democratic Socialists of America (Long Beach).