Immigrant Issues and the Saturday Occupy Rally by Phillip Reynes
What a beautiful Day i thought as I walked from my car to the park to cover the rally. It was brisk, cool, but sunny and I felt refreshed as I approached the Occupy protesters. I reflected upon the article I read in the Denver Post – such a right wing rag really, though to right wingers they would think the thought crazy; but what do you expect from people who do not read or even understand simple concepts, like socialism, or left wing – about the new police chief meeting the demonstrators and telling them that all “encumbrances to the side walk must come down.”
I had yet to talk to any one about it at occupy but the thought made me laugh, boy he (the new police chief) and Hickenlooper and the Mayor must really be out of touch I thought as I walked up. They do not understand how angry many people are.
What did I see before me as I approached? More “encumbrances” then where there when the new police chief spoke to the movements leaders. I smiled. Some where of cardboard and others appeared to be of cardboard but upon closer inspection where reenforced with wood to make removal more difficult. This made me happy, as all civil disobedience does against an unjust system.
Civil disobedience, that is what occupy is about and that is what the police do not understand. This is not going away quietly into the night. The fact that the next meeting with the new Chief is to be in his office also makes me laugh as it is assured to make things worse if his goal is to communicate in a meaningful way, after all it is the GA (general assembly) that is the forum for decisions here at occupy and not a meeting in an office.
For all the criticisms on the left – many of which I agree with – of the occupy Denver movement there is one thing I do like: it is not hierarchical in its structure. No meeting in an office will dampen the angst that these people are feeling. No proclamation from the police chief will make this go away. True most of these people are new to the struggle against capitalism and its excesses and they have much to learn but platitudes and threats will not dissway them or make them leave. I reflected upon how at the start there was so much talk about how the police where part of the 99% and that they where blameless. You don't hear that much now. You see clearly how the heavy handedness of the Denver police has made so many militants out of the occupiers. The release of the text messages in the Denver Post betrays the feelings of these cops. The treatment of protesters, the manhandling of older women and young alike (I have seen this first hand) shows how they feel about these people who just want fairness.
Spirits where high among the protesters and the days focus was immigration. At the teach in some truly horrifying stories where relayed to the crowed. Stories of heart ache and suffering. Stories of work and love and family exploited by right wing plutocrats who are headless of the suffering that they cause.
The Valenzuela Brothers are one such story. What follows is their words taken from their web site - http://valenzuelabrothers.com/default.aspx . Manuel was born the fourth child to Maria de Socorro Rodriguez and Franco Ricardo Valenzuela in Paloma, Chihuahua, Mexico in June of 1952. He came to the United States when he was just 3 years old. His first memories are from his home in Redford, Texas. He went back to Palomas and was surprised at how different it was from the only home he knew. As they walked down the street in Palomas "every door opened." He told me, "Here were my aunts and uncles, lots of cousins... We were all related." There was a small school in the middle of the town, and all of the houses were constructed from adobe and clay. There was a well which water was constantly drawn from, and barrels were placed under the roofs to catch rainfall. Clothes were washed by hand at the riverside. The air was fragrant with mesquite and cactus blossoms. He recalls that "there was no electricity, only lanterns." The children ran in and out of houses, sitting and listening now and then to a story-teller and feasting on walnuts. "All the children swam in the Rio Grande, it was so cool and fresh." He would not return again for five more years. His trips to Mexico were very rare, but always joyful.
Manuel was driving a tractor by 10 years old. "We would wake up at 4am and go and work in the cotton fields, then catch the bus from there. After school we went back to the fields and often worked into the night by headlights." It was a hard childhood. Manuel was very close with his father, who taught him so much about living. "I remember my Father as the type of man that would give his shirt for anybody. I try to be like that too, helping anyone I can."
Manuel excelled in school, often receiving praise and acknowledgment from instructors. He was especially good at math, and enjoyed learning. Always a good student, later in high school he played football, even making it to 1st string on the varsity football team. Soon a girl would capture his heart, and a promise was made to the frisky Irish-Native American girl. After she moved away to Lovett, Texas, Manuel could not bear to be away from her. He left for Texas at just 17 to find his love. He eventually caught up with her, but a very angry male relative barred the two from seeing each other at gunpoint.
Alone and seeking direction, Manuel turned his attention to the Marines. He secretly joined in 1971 as an infantry man, MO 0311. His journey first took him to Okinawa, Japan where he was taught guerrilla warfare. Months later, he was off to the Philippines for more advanced training in guerrilla warfare. Soon he would find himself on the coast of Vietnam. He was deployed to Vietnam 3 times, surviving each mission unharmed. He was one of the lucky ones. In the war he performed rescue missions and ambushes. In the last year of his service, he was an MP and secured an area on Mare Island, California where Nuclear Submarines were constructed. It was here that he caught back up with his love. They were soon married. He did not re-enlist after serving his first full term. Instead, he invested his time in building a family and trying to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, his reward for serving the country in Vietnam. Today he hopes to remain in the US with his children and grandchildren.
Think about this tale. This man is being discarded by the very bourgeoisie that he protected and defended. This man is as American as you or I. He believed in the system and this country and fought for it only to be discarded as an alien. His brother was in Vietnam as well and he to faces deportation. Neither has a criminal record. Both have been an asset to their communities and this nation. But it would appier that this nation has shown its true self with them. Are we a nation that is only about capital and the corporation at the expense of even basic human decency or respect? The answer is a resounding yes.
We have 4.7% of the worlds population and 25% of all the prisoners on the planet. We spend in Colorado more on prisons – by a long shot – then on education (after all that insures the prison and police lobbies will have a bloated budget, it is after all how we as a corporate nation mange the poor and profit from them. America has a health care system with some of the worst outcomes of any first world nation and it is in now way the possessor of a great healthcare system, after all the republicans in their debate cheer the idea of kicking the poor out of hospitals and deporting some twelve million people out of this nation – a nation that these very people helped to build. All of these topics where touched upon in the emigration teach in because they all interrelate.
We are now a nation dominated by corporate Fascism. It is my personal belief that the rich will never let go without a fight. Violence may be unavoidable. I think this as as I walk back towards Broadway while watching the March proceed away to go down the 16th Street male. I wonder to myself if the civil rights movement and people like Marten Luther King would have gotten anywhere without the threat and violence that the Black Panthers and people like Malcolm X made real. I reflected upon the new police chief and wondered if he was going to make it all worse as the right wing in America would have him do?
I remember the murder of Marvin Booker by the Denver Sheriffs department. I recall the elderly cyclist who the Denver vice squad beat down smashing his teeth out in front of the world in the street in front of Coors field. I recall how they tried to frame him on felony charges and then where caught lying in court (the man would have suffered this beating and prison if the incident was not videotaped). See for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnoMPFjHMOI . I remember the police beatings in Lodo that where caught on tape as well. I wonder how many people these thugs have framed.
I reflect on the twelve million undocumented workers in the USA and there families and children, their wives, their friends and I wonder what the right in America is thinking. Do the want violence? They seem to have no problem inflicting it on others – as long as they are not white and middle class – would violence like this not lead to more violence? Will social inequity not lead to violence?
The opportunity that was said to be America is a fleeting dream that is not attainable today. The median income is $43,000.00, remember thats median income half make far less. Can you really by a house, raise a family send your kids to college and have a retirement on that? We are all the victims of a great theft. Don't the police just protect the special interests at the expense of us all. Does anyone believe the libratarian lie that markets and captains of industry will all regulate themselves if we just make the government so small that we can drown it in a bath tub and deregulate the markets? Will it all come down to violence and the barrel of a gun? I wonder these things and think that maybe it will come to this sad state. I feel anger.
The answer is not in government. The answer to all these issues is in us. We must demand more of ourselves. We must find better answers then the capitalist lie we are all told and brought up to believe. We must make a stand. I think these thoughts as I look around me and I can not help but believe that this is why occupy Denver will not go away. This is why the police will once again come in their riot gear. Looking like the federation storm troopers from star wars the movie. Yet it will be no movie.