"Charity is commendable, everyone should be charitable. But Justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don't go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth, justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance.
Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table"
~Bill Moyers

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MAY DAY 2009: "No swine flu, nor rain, intimidated or cowed us. WE MARCHED!!!"

Ni la lluvia ni el temor nos intimidaron o acobardaron y la Influenza Porcina nos hizo lo que el Viento a Juárez - MARCHAMOS!!!

First of all, I like to thank you for your help in carrying out this project of tracking the numbers in our May Day 2009 Mobilizations in the US.

This is an incomplete report on the nationwide number of sisters and brothers who marched on May Day 2009, below you will find some numbers.

I take the opportunity to ask you to look at the list of the events which have no data and if you know the numbers for any of those or, if you know of an event which is not listed, please let me know. (Marta Zarate mentions San Bernardino and Perris, I didn't hear of those before, I heard there was an action in Utah but I have not been able to get numbers - Videos have been also hard to come by, I found some that I'm sharing with you and that you can view on the sidebar's FLV Video Player, I know of a couple more that will be added with the ones that I find in the coming days)

On one side, it has been very difficult to compile the numbers, on the other, it has been a very rewarding and fulfilling project, thanks to the opportunity to talk to so many people all across the country coupled to the emails I've received, they have rewarded and re-invigorated me.

A common view and feeling was that, albeit lower turnouts than in previous years, the fact of the matter is that, incomplete as the numbers are, tens of thousands of us marched, rallied or had a vigil for a just and humane cause, that is so much needed for the good of the country and society as a whole, that we had to deal with a Swine Flu [AH1N1] 'campaign of panic' waged in and by the corporatist media, the rain that fell on our heads, a workday and for many, a payday, we did good and if I might add, we've only just began, furthermore on a personal level, the wonderful people I talked to so far, planted in my mind the idea that what we did elevated our actions to subliminal heights.

The rain felt good and energizing, in San Francisco it was a beautiful day, it was raining but it wasn't cold and there was no wind, we had a lot of fun marching, we had a good number of people to start with and along the way more people joined in, while some people were kind of disappointed that many of us left at the conclusion of the March, I didn't, we had a Rally at Dolores Park and a great March, the latter was the main reason why we came out and it was to march, according to the people who were leaving too, it felt good how we braved the misinformation they fed us and the paranoia on the AH1N1 OUTBREAK they attempted to implant on us, in spite of all that, we didn't buy their crap.

Seriously, the numbers on the cases that they give us, do not match the alarming message they send out, plus let's not forget that in the United States alone, 35,000 people a year die of common flu related causes.

Take heart, with 31 events that I have numbers for, I get this nationwide total estimates, a Low of 48,213 and a High of 54,808.
I'd like to remind you that we had aprox. 99 events nationwide and about two thirds have not reported numbers yet.

Thank you all.

I know that I'm not the only one who feels the frustration at the lack of readily available information on our actions, I looked for videos and photos which contained panoramic views of the gatherings to have a chance of counts by averaging grids, much as I searched, there is little of it out there this time - in terms of videos, I got the impression that the regressive anti-immigrant types did take more video than we did.

Therefore, it seems to me that we need to do a better job at covering our events, in the past there have been controversies on the numbers that the police gives and the media releases, we all know that they regularly deflate the numbers and I have to admit that some of us inflate them on occasion.

I believe that it couldn't be too difficult that when we organize an event, much as each of us takes on commitments in groups such as, fundraising, outreach, logistics, program, press, etc., a few organizers could volunteer to learn, or device a way, to count crowds while others would take panoramic-view photos and video in addition to the ones we take to capture the sights and feeling of the crowd.

And, we must absoultely improve our nationwide communications to our networks, that I'm confident will expand, as a matter of fact, it is already happening according to people that I contacted about the numbers of attendees at the events.

If you find strange that Napa CA is listed as CANCELED and you see that 3 people showed up, well, there is a nice and warm story behind it, Marisa Loza, one of the organizers of that action and who provides Immigration Services in that City, was concerned that some people might show up after all, it so happens that during her outreach efforts, she told everybody she talked to, that she'd be there, since it was a last-minute cancellation, she felt that she would feel awful if some people who didn't get the last minute notice, showed up only to find the place empty, it was raining so she dressed accordingly, took her umbrella and went there where she was joined by two people, they waited for almost an hour under the rain until they felt sure nobody else would show up.

Afterwards, they went to a cafe where they found a poetry reading session, they heard this young man, a teenager, recite one of his own powerful pro immigrant poems, Marisa went to talk to him for awhile and, always and activist organizer, asked him if it was O.K. to contact him to be a speaker in the next event they hold, he said yes.

Oh yeah, about the 3 people listed, as I told Marisa, you and two other people were there, therefore, that makes 3 attendees.
(There are other not so uplifting turns and twists to the Napa story, but I should let the people involved tell it themselves and in their own time, all I can tell you is that it is about lack of democratic decision making and communication)

Javier Rodríguez, Coalición 25 De Marzo Director, in an email via my friend Candela A. from Phoenix, shares some info and thoughts with us, some of his numbers do not completely match the ones I have, I just received the email late last night and any corrections and/or incorporations I do, will be updated later on today on the post:

"In San Bernardino we expected a lot more people to join our caravan and we failed, precisely because of the famous flu, the caravan of Perris the same. CHURCHES OUTHERE ANNOUNCED IN their Mass about not going out, not go to where there were many people, ETC, FURTHERMORE, THEY CANCELLED ALL THE MEETINGS OF THE CHURCHES"

--- Rosa Martha Zarate Braceros of The North

Javier gives us a little rundown on what info he has and also gives his analytical rundown on the questions out there and that we all have heard:

Definitely there are several criteria on reading May 1st 2009. In Los Angeles, the approximate combined total for all the protests were around 10,000. Understanding that organizational and political conditions are not accurate for each city or region, not bad if you read the results at the national level. In Texas were 7 to 10 cities and in San Antonio only 300 arrived (Ruben Solis), there is where the first fatality for swine influenza happened. In the past, the movement there has been strong immigrant mobilizations of up to 75,000 protesters. Colorado, which has also raised 75,000 a few came out in Greeley. Chicago, with a pact of unity, according to one of the factions, they reached 15,000 and still no panoramic photos of the event. In San Francisco, the capital of progressive trade unionism and politics in the Southwest, there were hundreds. But the small city of Tucson exploded with 10,000 according to compañeros. In Detroit was not bad either with 5,000 and still we don't have the results of other major metropolis like New York. We don't have the nationwide total either, but the political impact of the process, during the journey on a national level, peeked in various instances and the first indicator after the 1st, emerged with a strong editorial in the NY Times.

I don't know where did Javier got the numbers from SF, the people I asked with the exception of one who said hundreds, said numbers at the very least above 1,500 - Finally, one of the comrades I asked, promised last night to send me a panoramic photo he took so I can have a good look and get a better feel for the SF numbers.

Here are a few things I was told:

Hola Aurora -

We had about 300 in Miami...wish it was bigger, but it was great to unite unions and the struggle for legalization. :)

In Solidarity,

I'd say in Memphis there were a good 15 people. Nice turnout for us--first time!!

Take care,

Mark from Miami writes:

.Our best guess is between 250 and 300, much smaller than we were
expecting. Still, it was bigger than last year, and in the heart of
downtown Miami, where the right-wing Cubans have run things for so


A sample of how the media tends to deflate the numbers:


For the event we put on in NJ, AP says 225. FIRM blog has it at 700. Probably more like 300-350.


A very dear friend of mine who is a Mexica Dancer (Aztec), send me her number of the Rally in Hayward and a bit more info:
hi, when we got there around 1:30 there were maybe 100 people around, i'm not good at counting, just sitting there like they were waiting for something. it had been raining all morning.

so i talked to ramon, our contact, and we started; i drummed and we had 3 dancers. there were about 20 kids from tennyson, which is where we practice, so they were excited to see us (though can't ever get those teens to go to practica). much smaller than previous years and they didn't have a mic or anything. i thought there would be people giving speeches or something, but when we left it seemed like they were waiting for something. (we had to leave right away to p/u kids from school).
hope this helps you.

Adel from the Silicon Valley / San Jose March also with a glimpse of what the media does when reporting numbers and why we need to get going and do a better job at documenting our actions ourselves:

Media reported 1K, but I think it was 3K. We walked a very busy street and it only got bigger as we proceeded..

Well done but I'm confident that in the next mobilization we will do waaaay better.

In Fraternal Solidarity,

Aurora Grajeda

SFCA 050609


  1. Saludos Companer@s
    The information of "hundreds" on San Francisco came through author/activist David Bacon. I believe there is some numbers that really picture an excellent display of numbers including Milwaukee 30,000, Madison 700-900Chicago 15,000, Tucson 10,000, LA all 7 marches 10,000, Detroit 5,000, San Francisco 1,500 and the others ? This totals 72,400,and for California San Diego,Fresno, Oakland, and San Jose have not reported yet but Sacramento I believe did.

  2. Saludos Javier,

    Thank you for the numbers, I added them to the count I have and this is what comes out:

    With only 37% of Actions reporting, between 90,898 TO 96,993 people marched, ralied or held vigils in the United States on May Day 2009 -- 67 out of 100 of the actions held in different states have yet to report numbers, I agree with you that amongst them are, New York, Oakland, San Diego, ect, I don't have numbers for Sacramento, maybe as you said they already reported numbers and we didn't get them, yet.

    Also, thank you for answering my question.

    I know David, the reason I asked was because there can be a big discrepancy on at what stage of the march the count is made, it is very common for people to join the march in progress.

    In San Jose which is listed on this post with between 2,800 to 3500, as the march went along, at the intersections as it progressed there were people waiting to join, and others split at the end skiping the rally and the speeches, and in our city, rain played a big part on why very few people stayed for the post-march rally, rain was coming down hard all down the route.

    I heard that one of the police officers in motorcycle at the SJ action, went ahead for a few blocks, when he came back, told some people at the front of the march, that at X corner there was a crowd or more than one hundred.

    In SF, there is a huge gap between the low and the high estimates.

    In any event, as I suggest in this post, we need to do a more organized way to count in an educated and structured manner ourselves.

    In solidarity,



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