On Mexican Independence Day, Monday, September 16, over 3000 workers and students marched from the Mission to City Hall to protest ICE terror and especially the concentration camps ICE is running on the border. The main slogan of the march was “Close The Camps! Free Our Children!” The march included over a thousand school children, contingents from many unions around the Bay Area, several socialist and anti-racist organizations, and even a fire truck brought by the San Francisco Fire Fighters union IAFF local 798. You can view the list of demands in English and Spanish.
Our SRA chapter helped organize several banner drops over freeways in the East Bay and myself and others were involved in organizing the march. This is the first large action of this sort we’ve participated in as a group and it was a great opportunity to start building a working relationship with deeply rooted organizations in the Bay Area including the ANSWER coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
The air was filled with chants including “El Pueblo, Unido, Jamás Será Vencido”1,“La Policía, La Migra, La Misma Porqueria”2, and “Escucha, Escucha, Estamos en la Lucha”3. We marched to Loco Bloco’s drums, danced to the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and were constantly accompanied by supportive honks and cheers from the cars and crowds we passed.
As we marched through the neighborhood, people came out of shops, offices, and homes to watch, cheer us on, or even join the march. Something that was especially moving to me was that at each of the dozen or so active construction sites we passed, the workers almost all stopped whatever they were doing and walked over to record video and chant with us.
When we reached City Hall, we held a rally and heard speakers from a variety of groups and backgrounds:
Roberto Hernandez, one of the lead organizers or the march, talked about the huge amount effort and organization that went into the march, thanked everyone who was part of that, and asked everyone who came out to sign up to get involved.
Aaron from the Peninsula’s Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps talked about the organizing they’ve done. He told us how the company Palantir provides facial recognition and other software that forms the technical framework for ICE’s terrorizing raids, and how through a combination of community and labor organizing they are putting pressure on Palantir to drop its contracts with ICE.
Erika Hidalgo from ANSWER explained how migration is a human right but also the current migration is driven by US imperialist policy in Latin America, and how we need to combat all aspects of the US empire – ICE and foreign interventions.
Fabian Maynetto from PSL pointed out that ICE terror is not a new invention of the Trump regime but a property of the whole capitalist system, Republicans and Democrats alike, and called for immediate amnesty for all immigrants.
Many of those affected by ICE terror and the US border regime were present and shared their stories, such a mother whose child is currently in one of the camps in Texas. Several religious leaders spoke to condemn the moral atrocity of violently policing migrants and putting children in cages.
Several local politicians also came to say they agree with us and ask for votes. Notably absent were Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein, two Democrat politicians who represent San Francisco. Both have voted to continue funding Trump’s deportation programs, and several speakers pointed out that they have done little to nothing to stop ICE despite rhetorically claiming to oppose the concentration camps. After the rally, contingents from the march went to each of their offices to deliver letters with our demands.
1 “The people, united, will never be defeated!”
2 “The police, ICE, they’re all the same filth”
3 “Listen, listen, we’re in the struggle!”