Once manifestantes fueron arrestados por impedir el paso de tráfico y desobedecer a un oficial de tránsito. The May Day march in the Mission, started at 24th and Mission Streets, and marched to 16th Street. Eleven protesters were arrested for impeding traffic and disobeying a traffic officer. Photo Santiago Mejía

A crowd of several hundred people gathered May 1 in the Mission on International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, to celebrate laborers and the working class.

“This is the time for workers to wake up and see that the labor force is under attack,” said American Postal Workers Union representative, Jose Carlos Riquelme. “We must stop the racism in the workforce (as well as) change the laws affecting undocumented immigrants. We must stop the intentions to privatize government jobs like the postal service. People must get together and fight for their privileges.”

The rally, which began with an Aztec dance ceremony, kicked off at the 24th Street Bart station at 4 p.m. and marched down Mission Street with people waving signs reading slogans like “break the glass ceiling” and “solidarity for all.”

When the march arrived the intersection of Mission and 16th streets it met members of “Food Not Bombs,” a human rights and anti-war activist organization, who set up a table in the middle of the street and began giving away food.

The police ordered protesters to move to the sidewalk. Eleven people who refused were surrounded by officers and arrested for impeding traffic and disobeying a traffic officer. Two of the arrested were tackled to the ground after they attempted to break through the police line.

In addition to advocating workers’ rights, many of the speakers at the rally addressed the struggles currently plaguing the Mission’s Latino community such as gentrification, police brutality and immigration law reform.

The crowd, a mix of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, energetically cheered and howled in support of the speakers and the variety of issues being addressed. However, the response coming from the crowd shifted from the sounds of support to those of anger when Justice For Alex representative, Benjamin Bac Sierra spoke about the recent death of Alejandro Nieto, who was killed by police on Bernal Hill on March 21.

“‘Mayday, mayday, mayday!’ That is a distress signal! We are in an emergency right now!” yelled Bac Sierra to the crowd. “We cannot allow these lies to continue. His death was a direct result of gentrification. He was an honest worker like a lot of you. We cannot allow another worker to be killed on the streets for no reason.”

Although many of the topics being addressed focused on issues surrounding Mission area Latinos, speaker Jason Wallach, from the Center for Political Education, pointed out that “May Day is the place where all our struggles come together,” a statement which received the loudest cheers of the rally.

“This is important,” said Judith Nero. Nero, a mother of a six and a four-year-old, pointed out. “I bring my boys out to May Day every year. It’s not the kind of holiday they are used to, but I need them to see the need in celebrating the working class.”

“My husband would have been here, but he is at work at his construction job,” said Nero, jokingly.