On Saturday, May 30, I headed down to Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles and joined a DSA-LA contingent for a demonstration. By sight, I estimated that there were 500 people in attendance. The protest had been scheduled long in advance, but was adapted by the organizers (Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a Maoist group with roots in the New Communist Movement) to respond to the current wave of urban uprisings.
Boyle Heights is a mostly Latino neighborhood on the city’s Eastside. This highly politicized community with a history of Chicano activism is currently embroiled in a years-long fight against gentrification. The racial makeup of the crowd was mostly white and Latino. The Latino attendees were of all ages, but the white attendees were mostly younger. The program was oriented to the neighborhood’s Latino community, with many of the speeches given in Spanish and untranslated.
Several family members of Latinos who had been killed by LAPD came onstage to speak about their personal experiences with police violence, connecting the struggles of their own families, coworkers, friends, and neighbors to the oppression experienced by of black Americans in Los Angeles and across the country. One Latino man came up to the stage and lifted his shirt to show the scars on his stomach from being shot by police.
The mood was decidedly anti-police — at one point an LAPD helicopter flew overhead and people jeered. The rhetoric was primarily centered on racism, but the event hosts made an occasional reference to capitalism as well. Cross-racial solidarity against police violence was a major theme of this demonstration. Many of the signs said things like “Latinx para Black Lives,” and “Tu lucha es mi lucha,” which means, “Your struggle is my struggle.”