On Monday April 10, nearly three thousand people took part in a semi-spontaneous demonstration in Providence, RI, in conjunction with the demonstrations taking place all over the country around the question of immigrant’s rights. Although other larger major cities had attendance figures in the hundreds of thousands, in Providence, a city that normally sees protest figures in the mid-hundreds, three thousand people on a demonstration is something significant, especially when one hears that the organizers had hopes of only a few hundred people turning out!
The mood of the rally and march was tremendous, for the vast majority of the participants this may have been their first time at any such event, a fact shown in the hunger of the demonstrators for leaflets. Quicker than one could hand one flyer out, there would be a dozen or more hands ready to consume the next.
The protesters all gathered in the parking lot of a discount grocery store, right in the center of Olneyville, a historically working class neighborhood and one of the poorest in the area (Olneyville saw the rise of industrialization and subsequent de-industrialization as the bosses moved factories further and further south in order to squeeze more profits from the workers). The crowd quickly spilled across the street and into adjacent parking lots. Cars full of people would slowly make the turn around the corner chanting in unison “Si se puede!” (“Yes we can!”)
The march was quick to get underway, fully charged with enthusiasm. It was quite an overwhelming feeling to see so many people instinctively respond to their class interests and to see such a showing of solidarity. People in the local shops gathered in the doorways and chanted right along with the procession, an all female collective house stood atop their roof top cheering on the march, city buses packed with people all perched at the open windows waving fists in solidarity. As the march came atop a highway bridge one could see a handful of abandoned cars along the break down lane and people running up the off ramp to join in on the march! The march broke at the former armory building’s expansive park grounds, where the sound of the crowd routinely drowned the P.A. system. Immigrant speakers from various nations took to the platform to address the rally, explaining the struggles they have faced. Language and dialect differences caused no problems - it was clear this was a workers’ rally.
The rally and march today were also a preparation for the general strike planned for May Day, which if this semi-spontaneous event is any sign of what is to come, will once again be used to express the interests of the working class here in America.
No Human is illegal!
For full amnesty to immigrant workers and families!
May 1st don’t go to work don’t go to school!
- USA: Massive movement of immigrants against Bush policies (March 30, 2006)