Thousands of marchers join Free the People March

Thousands of people, holding posters and waving international flags gathered to march for immigrant rights at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.

“The people are tired of the attacks and threats against our communities,” said Ron Gochez, one of the event organizers.

Gochez said marchers wanted to send a message to the rest of the nation and to President Donald Trump that they aren’t going to sit by while he implements his policies on immigrants, refugees, Muslims, the LGBT community and women.  

Marchers first gathered in Pershing Square at noon and marched through the streets of downtown to City Hall. Members of the Muslim, Latino, Hispanic, African-American and LGBT communities were given a chance to speak at the rally.

“This is a reflection of American people from various diverse backgrounds coming together. The attack on one is an attack on all of us. We expect our elected representatives, the mayor and the state to respect and protect people, living in California,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the greater Los Angeles area.

Many of the marchers waved flags. Some were holding homemade banners, placards and posters. People were heard chanting slogans like, “No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for All.”

“I am here today to stand in solidarity with the communities that need support right now,” said John Roane, a participant.

Some of the organizations that supported and participated in the march included California for Progress, Immigrant Youth Coalition, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

“We didn’t come here for a better life for all refugees and immigrants; we came here for a life. All we wanted was life,” said an Iraqi-American speaker who went by the name Hamza.

Funding for the march came from crowd-sourcing through GoFundMe, according to Joseph Brown, one of the event organizers.

Gochez said they are calling for a nationwide strike on May 1 to show President Trump and his administration that they have an organized resistance to his policies.

Food trucks and vendors sold food outside City Hall, and free water and apples were given to the marchers by the organizers as a gesture of appreciation for coming.

The marchers declared in their statement of purpose:

“We the people of Los Angeles declare the city and county a sanctuary for all. We pledge to defend and protect each other from ICE raids, deportations, FBI raids, police violence, mass evictions, and incarceration. We vow to protect the rights of immigrants, undocumented, Muslims, Blacks, Jews, LGBTQIA people, women and the low-income. And we pledge to ensure that all individuals, documented and undocumented, have access to healthcare, quality education, housing, and youth programs.”

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