I was part of the May Day “Immigration Reform” march and rally here in Minneapolis. The next day, my excitement and hope for real change, began to melt into frustration as I read comments about the rallies in news accounts and on facebook. In my next few posts I want to explore the desires and motives that brought myself, and thousands of others into the streets. Why is there so much fear and misunderstanding? Why are people drawn to polarization rather than to cooperation?
The article in the Star Tribune gave us a head count at 2,000, yet mischaracterized the march in it’s opening sentence, “Marching Behind a Mexican flag….” I saw much of the march, I was a lead chanter (I got a loud voice so they gave me a little megaphone!). I was up and down the sides and for every 1 mexican flag there there was at least 20 “old glories”. I’m sure the reporter saw people, somewhere, behind the red-green-and white, but the overall tone of the event was pride in the USA.
The Minneapolis march was actually 3 marches. One began in North East Minneapolis where there is a growing Latino presence, the other two begin in South Minneapolis one came up Chicago Ave. from Lake Street, the other started at King Park on 42nd and Nicolette Ave. As the crowds met at each location they proudly displayed their banners to the passing crowds. Many drivers honked and passengers yelled support. Only twice during the entire 3 hours did I witness tension, both times an angry middle-aged European-American men shouted profanities at the crowd, both times the marchers did not return the hateful aggression but either ignored or tried to creatively engage the assailants.
The chants we repeated we fun, simple, and yet poignant. Some were in English, many in Spanish, and when possible we did most in both languages. Here are a few…
- “Sí se puede!” “Yes we can”
- “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!” “The people united will never be defeated!
- “Obama escucha, estamos en la lucha!” – (literally Obama listen! we are in the struggle!) we made a chant that would loosely translate the meaning as we passed people “Listen up Barack! we’re Not gonna stop”
- “Justicia y paz pidemos no mas!!” – translated – “Justice and peace we ask no more!”
- Minnesota no es Arizona!
Over the next few posts I’ll work to explain how this issue impacts myself and others, and why I see it as THE issue of this decade. The church must choose to be either a prophetic voice in the wilderness or one more sheep following the blind shepherd of politics.