The smell of copal drifted through the Seattle streets as Danza Azteca group Ce Atl Tonalli lead the march.
Soon, the rattling of their ayoyote shells and the howl of their conchas were joined by loud chants of “Sí se puede!” (Yes we can!) “Black lives matter!” and “Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos” (Alive is how they took them, alive is how we want them). That last chant was in reference to the disappearance of 43 Normalistas (college students studying to become teachers) almost two years ago in Iguala, Mexico.
This was the 2016 May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights. I asked a few participants what brought them out for the march:
“I want amnesty for all immigrants. For children who have been brought here since they were small, without a choice or a voice on whether they went to a foreign place.. And because I have two sons here, and if deportation comes, I’d have to be separated from them.” — Rosa Garcia
“Because of my parents. I’m here to support them. I think it is a right, as children of immigrants, to help our parents. Like this sign says: ‘We scream what our parents are afraid to scream'” — Melissa Galindo
“My parents went through a lot. As immigrant parents– I’m here to support them, and support every other immigrant parent that’s out there.” — Joel Hernandez
“I’m here to be in solidarity with every group here, as an activist.” — Dove Taylor
“I’m here today because we’re in a crisis and it affects us all. Capitalism is affecting workers, and the workers that are most affected are people who come from immigrant backgrounds, here and outside of these political borders. It’s not just a problem in the US, it’s also a problem outside of the US. People are being exploited by capitalism. So I’m here to learn, to be aware.”
“I’m here for many reasons, one is to support, but mostly because I think this is a learning experience. When we talk about social justice tools, these are the tools. We have a lot to learn from campesinos, we have a lot to learn from undocumented students. Even though capitalism tries to strip you from your soul and from your spirit, these folks are demonstrating that no, that we are still human.” — Iris Viveros Avendaño
“I started doing this with my dad when I was younger, and then it just became something that I do every year. We just wanted to raise awareness in regards to other queer undocumented people, as well as showing our solidarity as queer people to the undocumented community here in the Seattle area and the Washington area, specifically for the Eastern Washingtoners, because they’re primarily agricultural workers who are undocumented. So we want to be in solidarity with them, and say we support you.” — Mariela Munguia
“I come to this march every year, because this is a place where a lot of racism exists for Hispanic people. That’s why I like to support, so that racism doesn’t continue to happen. I’ve been going to this march for 10 years. Last year there were more people. To be honest, even though it’s at a good time, everyone has to work. Even me, I had work today but I didn’t want to go, because I always march.” — Mario García
The march ended at the U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown with a speech from community police leader and recently released political prisoner Nestora Salgado. She spoke about government corruption and her time in solitary confinement in Mexico. She urged everyone to join her campaign “Ponle Rostro y Nombre a los presos politicos” (Put a face and name to political prisoners)
“The time I spent in prison was horrible, but despite that, I continue standing and continue fighting for my comrades,” she said.