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04.23.08

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May day in the North Bay

By Gretchen Giles


Calling for a "No Peace, No Work Holiday" in protest of the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) prepares for a cessation of all work on Thursday, May 1. May 1 has long been International Workers' Day, though in the North Bay for the past two years, the marchers have largely been occupied with the inequities of the U.S. immigration system.

While thousands of people marched for immigration rights in 2006 and 2007, the focus of North Bay May Day efforts this year once again turns back to the worker. Sonoma County organizer Atilla Nagy explains that a coalition of groups, including several interfaith organizations, have banded together as a May 1 Coalition to emphasize the ineffectiveness of NAFTA, to call for a halt to ICE raids in the North Bay and to further the campaign for Sonoma County specifically to become a "county of refuge." 

But what about the Latino crowds who have filled the streets of Santa Rosa dressed in white shirts, calling to be recognized? "They'll still be very much a part of this," Nagy assures. "The focus is very much on the immigrant community. After all, they do all the work."

The International Workers' Day march and rally starts at noon in Roseland at the old Albertsons grocery store lot, 665 Sebastopol Road. The march begins at 1pm and wends its way to Juilliard Park, where speakers, teach-ins and other peaceable activities will be paramount. For details, call 707.571.7559.

In San Rafael, the Canal Community Alliance celebrates International Workers' Day with an evening event at its offices featuring community activist Ethel Seiderman and Supervisor Steve Kinsey's assistant David Escobar. Seiderman is the newly retired executive director of the nationally acclaimed Parent Services Project. Food, translation and childcare available. Thursday, May 1, from 6pm to 9pm, at the Canal Alliance, 91 Larkspur St., Bldg. 86-C, second floor. Free. 415.454.2640.

For more information on May Day in the Bay, go to the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, [ http://www.immigrantrights.org/ ]www.immigrantrights.org.


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