They chanted each other’s slogans, raised each other’s banners, embraced each other’s causes as their own.
At the end of a long day of protest in the city Monday, organizers with the immigrant support group Juntos and activists with the Black and Brown Workers Collective amplified their voices in a budding coalition. Their common concerns: stereotyping, racial profiling, and what they say is unfair targeting of their members by police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
On May Day, the traditional day to recognize worker rights, the two groups converged outside City Hall for a noon rally billed as “A Day Without Immigrant, Black and Brown Bodies.”
Organizers in Philadelphia and in the dozens of cities that participated in the national day of protest had asked demonstrators to stay home from jobs, keep children home from school, and avoid shopping. There was no way to measure if they succeeded. But the march did draw parents and school-age children.
It was one of at least three demonstrations that filled city streets Monday. Public school teachers rallied for a contract, and Temple University students held a walkout to demand the school become a "sanctuary" campus.
“We cannot talk about May Day without talking about the fact that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, keep this country going and alive,” said Workers Collective organizer Shani Akilah, addressing a crowd that at times numbered about 2,000. Near where she spoke, someone held a sign that read, “Undocumented immigrants are a fundamental part of the $21.5 billion restaurant economy in Pa., and $799 billion in the nation.”
Earlier, Juntos leader Miguel Andrade led a chant: “Whose lives matter?” And the crowd roared back, “Black lives matter.” Some Latino protesters even held signs with those words written in Spanish.
David Suro, owner of Tequilas in Center City, said he closed the restaurant for the day so he and his staff could attend the rally. “It’s very easy to sell this bogus story that immigrants are dangerous and here to take advantage of us,” said Suro, who was born in Mexico. “It’s just not true.”
With a good-natured poke at the classic Philadelphia accent, Clare Luebbert, 26, a teacher of English as a second language, held a poster that read: “The only I.C.E. we support is wooder ice.”
Accompanied by dozens of uniformed police and civil affairs officers in plainclothes, the demonstrators marched east on Market Street and ended their protest around 3 p.m. on Independence Mall.
“Muchisimas gracias,” Andrade said as the demonstrators dispersed. “Take care of each other.”