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Radical organizations, including active communist and revolutionary socialist organizations, were the driving force organizing the immigration boycott rally at Union Square in New York City on Monday. WND attended the event and took over 350 photographs documenting the effort by the radical political left to deliver an anti-American, anti-imperialist message under the guise of an “immigration rights” rally.
The “Immigrant Boycott Day” was intentionally scheduled for May 1, worldwide known as the communist and socialist “May Day” holiday celebrating the struggle of “exploited workers” internationally. This scheduling decision was downplayed by the mainstream media. Documenting how carefully the radical political left staged and managed this May 1 protest, we found clear evidence that the message of the event was intended to be a communist and socialist anti-U.S. message.
Beginning at noon, radical leftists groups – including the communist Workers World Party and the International Socialist Organization – brought printed placards and signs to Union Square. Members of the groups handed out copies of the Workers World and Socialist Worker newspapers, in both Spanish and English, along with the professionally printed placards with their radical message. Tables were set up to distribute socialist literature.
The Workers World Party was responsible for the ubiquitous Che Guevara printed signs which were waved prominently throughout the event. At one point, a black-shirted radical climbed the George Washington Statue in Union Square to wave a Che Guevara sign before the crowd, a Mexican flag hung on the statue, flowing over his left shoulder as he shouted out defiantly. Che Guevara, the worldwide symbol for revolutionary socialism and communism, was easily grafted by the Workers World Party onto the amnesty message of this pro-illegal immigration protest.
Comfortably, the Hispanic immigration boycotters mixed Che Guevara’s image and the Mexican flag to deliver the radical message: “Imperialism NO! THE PEOPLE UNITED will never be defeated.” The Che Guevara poster printed by the Workers World Party called for solidarity with Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Haiti, New Orleans, Asia and Africa.
The point of the radical left was that the “struggle for immigrant rights” was just part of an international struggle for the oppressed underclass. To underscore the point, protesters carried placards with the applicable Workers World Party slogan: “Workers’ Struggles Have No Borders!” (“Las Luchas Obreras No Tienen Fronteras”) In other words, we should eliminate the border with Mexico, because nation-states are not relevant for the radical revolutionaries. What is relevant for the radicals is the transnational worker struggle they see exemplified by the oppression of Mexican illegal-alien workers. What the radical revolutionaries want was expressed in red banners that carried displaying their message, “Down with U.S. Imperialism.”
The communist theme to the protest event was clearly stated in the lead “May Day” front-page article in the Workers World Party’s May Day issue of the Workers World newspaper:
A giant has awakened in the heart of imperialism.
The “invisible” workers who for decades have been vilified and exploited in quasi-slavery conditions, who get up at dawn to pick the vegetables and fruits we all eat, who work in the crowded and many times unsafe areas of restaurants, shops and food processing plants, who clean and tidy hotels and homes, who take care of children and toil in so many areas for a meager wage with no benefits – they have awakened to take their rightful place in the history of the working class struggle in the United States.
They are spearheading a revival of working class struggle with a call for a boycott and strike on May Day.
Clearly, for communist and socialist radicals, the Hispanic “immigration-rights” protest events were a chance to advance their revolutionary agenda by hijacking, or otherwise appropriating, the message of amnesty for Hispanic illegal aliens.
A group called the “May 1 Coalition” published on the Internet the plans for the protest event, calling for a 4 p.m. rally in Union Square, to be followed by a march south on Broadway, to end in a 7 p.m. rally at Foley Square. The May 1 Coalition handed out green printed signs with “Solidarity with Immigrant Workers” printed in black type. The May 1 Coalition’s website documents the behind-the-scenes organizing effort these radical revolutionary groups put into calling for and coordinating the May 1 protest activity.
The event was a magnet for radical organizations. F.I.S.T. (Fight Imperialism Stand Together) was present to hand out signs with their leftist symbol, a raised fist as the top point on a red socialist star. F.I.S.T. can be counted on to be there at any leftist protest, ranging from protesting for Katrina survivors to supporting radical environmental causes.
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition distributed yellow and black printed signs calling for amnesty: “Amnestia. Full Rights for All Immigrants!” The Answer Coalition supports a wide range of radical leftist causes, including opposing the Iraq War and supporting the Palestinians in their continuing conflict with Israel.
Even SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) marched behind a banner – reviving the spirit of the anti-war protest they had championed in the late 1960s and 1970s – in their radically violent opposition to the Vietnam War.
Camp Casey was established in Union Park, providing a symbolic presence for Cindy Sheehan and her protest against the war in Iraq.
Even Stop the War on Iran sported a banner at Union Square, stressing the underlying anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. theme that was the unifying, underlying message here to capture and exploit the “immigration rights” message the protest was supposedly organized to communicate.
The Revolutionary Communist Party of the U.S. handed out Spanish language copies of their radical newspaper, Revoluci?n. Voz del Partido Communista Revolucionario. The communists marched behind a large red banner carrying the party’s slogan: “Somos seres humanos. Exigimos un mundo major. No acceptaremos niguna forma de esclavitud.” (“We are human beings. We demand a better world. We do not accept any form of slavery.”) The communists carried the red flag of the 1871 Paris Commune. The Communist Party’s May Day message was that a communist world was yet possible and this May Day immigrant protest in the United States was the vanguard of the May Day revolutionary holiday worldwide.
The Catholic Church was clearly present in the protest crowd. WND photographed a Catholic priest giving a speech on a bullhorn, surrounded by Mexican flags and F.I.S.T. red star signs. Other Catholic priests were present in the rally, one even photographed holding up a protest sign.
The Break the Chains Alliance, a group of community organizations supporting illegal aliens, marched behind their banner asking for the repeal of IRCA. The Break the Chains Alliance not only wants a full amnesty, the group calls for the complete elimination of the IRCA “employer sanctions” which place penalties on employers who hire illegal aliens. The group carried a poster ridiculing President Bush at the end of a neck-wrist-ankle chain binding together “guest workers,” “undocumented migrants,” and “U.S. citizens” in symbolic slavery.
The Union Square May Day protest was a magnet for TV crews and on-the-scene interviews. Television remote satellite trucks lined the east side of Union Square, emphasizing the media event “photo op” nature of the event. The TV crews tended to focus on Hispanic protesters and their “amnesty” message, not the leftist radicals who were using the occasion to advance their revolutionary agenda.
Although the protest event was billed as a “boycott,” WND noticed that New York City appeared open for business, much as usual. The subways, taxicabs and buses continued on normally scheduled routes. Businesses, even at Union Square and along the Broadway march route, were open and functioning.
WND, on the scene, estimated the Union Square protest rally to have drawn around 20,000 people at the height of the event. New York police were visibly present in force. Except for the streets immediately around Union Square, traffic continued to flow, even though police had to re-route motorists around the Union Square protest site.
If the goal of the May 1 immigration boycott protest was to close down New York City, the event was a complete failure. A strong police presence kept traffic flowing and businesses open, even in the immediate protest area. If anything, the influx of people into New York City simply created a market for protest vendors selling flags and for street vendors selling hot dogs, soft drinks and bottled water.