Chicago: 40,000 March Against Minutemen Vigilantes

Revolution #011, August 14, 2005, posted at

Revolution received the following correspondence:

A march of some 40,000 people, primarily immigrant Mexicanos, hit the streets in Chicago on July 1. The march through the southwest side was a huge outpouring of people who came out of the shadows to oppose the anti-immigrant vigilante group Minutemen and the government’s immigration policy. There are over a million Latinos in the Chicago metro area, but this story was virtually ignored by the mainstream media except in the Spanish-language editions.

The demonstration was initiated by a morning DJ called El Pistolero of the La Que Buena 105.1 morning show (rated in 2004 as the most popular of all radio shows in Chicago) when he learned that the Minutemen, who are hunting immigrants on the border, were setting up an office in Chicago. He was joined by another popular DJ, El Chokolate of 107.9 La Ley. They called on people to take to the streets and deliver a message that the Minutemen are not welcome and to demand immigrant rights.

This call was printed in the Spanish-language press and repeatedly aired on the radio. El Pistolero did a 24-hour marathon calling people to the march. People called in with pledges to bring busloads from the surrounding cities and states. Forty-two churches and various groups, including organizations with ties to states in Mexico, took up the call.

El Pistolero estimated that 60% of the marchers took off work to attend, and many came in work uniforms. As the march passed workplaces, the marchers shouted to the people hanging out the windows to leave their jobs and join the march. Women with small children represented a big portion of the march.

We joined the march with the Revolución newspaper, the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience, reprints of the article from Revolution #1 titled “The World Can’t Wait — Drive Out the Bush Regime,” and sampler DVDs of Bob Avakian’s speech, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About.We saw our mission as part of repolarizing for revolution and connecting up Chairman Bob Avakian and the RCP to the thousands of angry and frustrated immigrants and others at this march.

People came to the march to stand up for immigrants and against the daily abuses and outrages. Many of the slogans were aimed at mobilizing people within the framework of electoral politics. But we learned that many of the people at the march were wrestling with the big questions shaping the future— questions about the war in Iraq, the direction of society, and how to resist.

People literally lined up to get our papers and leaflets. We distributed 900 newspapers in Spanish and 3,500 flyers. We could have distributed thousands more, but we had really underestimated the turnout.

While writing this correspondence, I called back some of the people I’d met at the march. I reached one young man who made a few remarks about the march—and then said what he really wanted to talk about was the Bob Avakian DVD. “This is real good. He can teach us a lot. I learned about communism—different than what I understood. He taught me about Black people’s history. I didn’t know about it.”

Reflecting on all this made me think—What does this tell us about the times we are living in? What does this tell us about the mood of this key section of the people at the bottom and the potential for a societal-wide movement to declare “The World Can’t Wait...Drive Out the Bush Regime,” as well as the need and basis to repolarize society for revolution.

This march holds an important part of the answer.