By Julie Cortez
El Hispanic News
Portland, OR — There was talk of tuition equity for undocumented students, support for unions, condemnation of unjust banks, infringements on immigrant rights, barriers to fair wages, the benefits of a six-hour workday, fighting back against foreclosures, the damage caused by the “Secure Communities” program, and unscrupulous capitalists, but the essential words of May Day 2012 in Portland were “unity” and — to quote one beat-boxing history teacher — “solidarity.”
“We won’t be divided,” Marco Mejía asserted at the permitted May Day rally in downtown Portland Tuesday afternoon. Mejía, there on behalf of Jobs with Justice and the May Day Coalition, called on the crowd to sign a pledge to join forces with five other causes throughout the year as a gesture of “shared struggle.”
After the rally, protestors marched through downtown Portland, stopping along the way to speak out against Wells Fargo’s lending practices and alleged support of for-profit prisons, cuts by City Hall that affect workers, and the imprisonment of undocumented immigrants.
Portland saw a marked increase in May Day activities and participants this year, many of them seemingly fueled by the Occupy movement. Earlier in the day, high school students marched on City Hall, an unpermitted “general strike rally” under the Burnside Bridge resulted in arrests, and a group of protestors “liberated” a foreclosed home in North Portland on behalf of its owner.
Later that evening during the May Day rally at the Oregon Capitol in Salem, a letter read on behalf of Gov. John Kitzhaber indicated that he has convened a workgroup to come up with changes to Oregon’s current ban on driver licenses for undocumented residents. In the meantime, the letter said, efforts are under way to allow law enforcement to accept alternative forms of identification, such as Mexican Consular identification cards.
“Right now, too many Oregonians are traveling from home to work, or school, or church, in risk of violating the law,” Kitzhaber said in the letter. “They are forced to choose between this risk and providing for their families.”Read more...