May Day rally returns to Long Beach after 2 years of car caravans

Dozens of Long Beach community organizers and activists rallied on Sunday at Cesar E. Chavez Park for May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day.

The May Day Long Beach Coalition is made up of more than 20 organizations in the city that aim to create a sense of solidarity on human rights issues including immigration, labor and social justice.

While organizers planned car caravans to honor the day for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunday’s event represented a return to the traditional rally.

Speaker Sheila Bates pours waters in honor of people killed by police. Bates’ speech was part of the May Day Long Beach event at Cesar E. Chavez Park in Long Beach on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

During the event, organizers celebrated local labor accomplishments, including securing panic buttons for hotel workers and the ongoing push by employees at local Starbucks stores to unionize.

But other justice issues were also discussed. Speaker Cheyenne Phoenix, for example, spoke about Cal State Long Beach’s recently settled lawsuit over its treatment of Puvungna land on the campus.

Looking forward, Allena Braithwaite, a steering committee member of Long Beach Democratic Socialists of America, said that her group is campaigning for locals to vote for more progressive candidates in upcoming elections.

Attendees listen to speakers during the May Day Long Beach event at Cesar E. Chavez Park in Long Beach on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Braithwaite said Sunday’s rally was meant to celebrate the work that many local organizations—like Long Beach Forward, Housing Long Beach, Filipino Migrant Center and Friends of Puvungna, to name a few—do to advocate on issues that affect people’s day-to-day lives. Some of those issues, she said, include access to health care, land displacement, environmental racism, poor working conditions and police brutality.

Braithwaite said that Sunday’s overarching theme was “anti-imperialism” because it’s “what set all these other issues off.”

IN PICTURES: May Day marchers bring workers’ struggles to Central Long Beach

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