BROOKLYN, NY, November 16 — Chants of “citizen, immigrant, black and white, Workers of the World Unite” and “Somos Trabajadores, No Somos Ilegales” rang out as around 150 marchers demonstrated against anti-immigrant raids. A coalition of immigrants’ rights organizations, church committees, and union activists organized this demonstration. They provided speakers in English and Spanish who set the tone for this firm and united march. PL’ers, along with our base of CHALLENGE readers, were active in these organizations in urging this response to attacks on immigrants.
Our target was the kosher meat market owned by the Rubashkin family. The Rubashkins own the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa that was recently raided by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents. At a rally before the march began, a long-time unionist related the horrific conditions that Postville meat-packers faced (over 9,000 child labor violations, hundreds of wage violations as well as dangerous and unhealthy conditions in the plant) to the drive for super-profits that led to the current capitalist financial crisis.
He pointed out that Agriprocessors is in the news today but it is typical of treatment workers increasingly find in this country and around the world. The worldwide system of exploitation and greed we call imperialism is the main reason that immigrants leave their country of origin to seek work in places like the Postville plant. A speaker also related the racist treatment of these immigrant workers to the recent murder of Marcelo Lucero by racist thugs on Long Island simply for being Latino.
As we marched we got a mixed reception. Starting in a neighborhood of recent immigrants from Mexico, Pakistan and Bangladesh, we were warmly received. Many people raised fists in support of our anti-racist chants and others joined our march. As we moved to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood the response was cooler. We patiently answered questions as to why we were demonstrating and firmly held our ground. Our march brought the message of working-class unity and the need to fight racism. We would not be provoked or deterred.
When we returned to our starting point, a second rally was held. A representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union spoke about how Agriprocessors had cited immigration status as the reason they refused to abide by a vote for unionization in a Brooklyn warehouse. This made clear the connection between anti-immigrant and anti-worker actions of this racist boss.
Today’s march showed the unity needed to fight racism. With communist leadership, in the long run this unified struggle will lead to the death of the cause of racism: capitalism.