“There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever. They have kicked the sleeping giant. It’s the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle.” So says Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, quoted in today’s Los Angeles Times.
He was talking about the the massive demonstration in Los Angeles yesterday. According to police estimates there were 500,000 people in the streets of LA (and the police always underestimate these things) in favor of creating a path toward citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers already in the country. Two weeks ago more than 100,000 people turned out in Chicago for a similar protest, far surpassing in size the protests at the start of the Iraq War. In both cases, turnout was much bigger than organizers had hoped for. Demonstrations like these can change the political dynamic, spur others to action, and stiffen the backbone of wavering political allies.
For coverage see the LA Times, which also has a good set of photographs from the rally. The LA Indymedia site has many more images, these taken from inside the march (the images in this post are from la.indymedia.org. LA Indymedia reports also give you a good sense of why so many people came out. The Sensenbrenner bill raises the image of thousands of people being summarily taken from their homes and jobs and deported.