Largest Protest Ever in Los Angeles : Gran Marcha 2006


According to the LAPD, the protest today was the largest ever in LA’s history, with over half a million people in attendance. I had earlier guessed there were a full million, so I guess I was about half right. I wasn’t going to be in town today because I was supposed to go to Search and Rescue training in the mountains, but I had to help with a VoIP install in OC. I had heard about the rally via LATimes, so I did a little google research and found out it started at 10am on Olympic and Broadway which is just a few blocks away from my house. I got to the rally at right around 10:30 and I was worried that I was going to miss it.

As it turned out, the rally took around 6 hours to make it’s way through the city, covering about 26 blocks at one time! Never in my life had I been surrounded by so many people. The vibe was actually celebratory and peaceful with half a million proud immigrants and their supporters flooding the street to get there message out against the draconian HR4437 that would make it a felony to cross the border illegally.


The peaceful actions of the extremely well organized protesters would make Martin Luther King Jr. a proud man if he was here to see it today. The vast majority of the protesters wore white to symbolize peace, but it also made the throngs of people stand out, their great numbers readily apparent. The marchers chanted the famous Ceasar Chavez slogan “Sí, Se Puede,” meaning Yes, It We Can Be Done and carried placards with slogans such as “Keep Our Families Together” and “We Are Not Criminals“. My favorite was this “You Bug So Much You Woke Up the Sleeping Giant” sign.

Thousands of American and Mexican flags waived together as the news helicopters made passes over the crowd. It was the greatest show of patriotism I have seen my whole life, and the whole event really moved me. I didn’t get a chance to walk all the way to the front of city hall, but J. Emilio Flores from Getty Images News got these amazing shots of the crowd. I took a few hundred pictures and here are about 60 of them. I also shot a few rolls of B&W film, but I’ll have to develop and scan that before you can see it.

Other folks in the LA blogosphere that attended and wrote about it were Eric Richardson, Don Garza, Jim Winstead and LAVoice. Joseph over at Martini Republic was bitching about how nobody from the LA blogosphere cared about the protest or wanted to be a part of it:

These websites all think they have something to say about Los Angeles, where HALF A MILLION people marched today. Yet no simpatico on-the-spot coverage anywhere to be found among LA’s major generalist blogs.

It’s disgraceful, the way Latinos, even with their ascendant numbers, operate at a frequency that Anglos can’t quite hear, even here in Los Angeles, even when they flood the streets in the way that Anglos never dare to.

I’m guessing most Anglo bloggers took the opportunity to shop at Home Depot today while the parking lots were clear.

Those are pretty harsh words about a group of people who are on your side (and avid readers of your site)!

Welcome Boingboingers

Update: I forgot to mention the were zero arrests and that the even organizers are saying there were over a million people in the march, which is what I had initially guessed. Also this news item made me laugh: 200 rally in support of stricter border control. And this made me feel sick [you’ll have to remove the “s” from the end of that domain if you want to see the article]. You can check out the protest photographs from about 7 different photogs on flickr here. In other news I should really proofread before posting!

108 thoughts on “Largest Protest Ever in Los Angeles : Gran Marcha 2006”

  1. I blogged the LA Voice post, but I can’t really say I attended the rally – I stumbled into it more than anything else.

  2. Wish I had heard about it before it happened, I would have been there instead of at the quiet little Hollywood symposium I went to.

    Funny, for all his scorn, it doesn’t look like Joseph was actually there.

  3. Such an amazing day. I am proud of mi raza. Sadly, I was unable to attend being so far away with no way of getting to LA. Saw it on the news (Telemundo) and was in tears. Todo los dias es un buen dia para ser latino.

  4. I know you’re not the only person saying it, but “s√≠ se puede” doesn’t directly translate to, “yes we can.” The actual translation is “yes, it can be done.” Yes we can would be, “s√≠ podemos.”

    I went to the Mexico v. USA game last week and I think sporting events might measure up to some of the patriotism.

  5. “Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.”

    Bob Dylan

  6. I’m sorry, but every one of those Mexican flags is counter patriotic. This rally would have been infinatly more effective to have all the participants carrying the stars and stripes. The Presence of teh Mexican Flag (from another country entirely) only shows that these marchers hold no more esteem for this country, their self-proclaimed new home, than their old.

    If this same march happened in Michigan with Canadian flags, noone would proclaim it as patriotic.

  7. As you can easily tell from the photos the number of American flags greatly outnumbered the Mexican flags. I would say it was 10-1 American to Mexican flags.

  8. California whas Spanish territory. There the anglos where the foreigners. :DDD

    Indeed, everybody is wellcome. But its very odd that the “”latin”” need to do this mob. Sure where pissed of bad habits and racism on LA.

  9. Whenever you get 500,000 people together in one place there is bound to be some kind of mess. Plus it was hard enough to get on the bus / train even without a huge placard. On her way to work, my fiance said she saw massive lines for the busses.

  10. How is carrying the flag of another nation patriotic?
    How is it a good thing to celebrate a nation rife with corruption so deep it makes the USA look clean?
    How is it that coming in to a nation illegally is a good thing?
    How is it that coming in to a nation illegally then demanding my tax dollars for medical care and such is a good thing?
    How can it make you swell with pride to be around a group of people that disregard our laws?

  11. hehehe… I’ll bet the Native Americans thought the same way when foreign flags were planted on their own soil? Cute, but come on guys – with that in your heads, do you think ‘Americans’ really have the right to restrict others from coming into the country after all? Hell, some people hate cleaning their own houses. Others deserve to benefit from that kind of laziness.

    :) I’m an Aussie, and I see the same ‘problems’ created by a false sense of colonial ownership here too.

  12. …and I’m not saying it’s the only things immigrants can do. But sadly, that’s what these people are often _used_ for.

  13. The size of the march demonstrated how completely out of control illegal immigration is — are we supposed to be sympathetic after seeing that they’re using their numbers now to influence our laws and political process?

    Here’s the issue: There are more than 200 countries in the world, and probably one billion people who would love to immigrate to the United States.

    Why should people from just five or six countries be given special treatment just because they’re willing to break our laws?

    All this stuff about how Mexicans and Central Americans “built out country” and “cook our food” is baloney. There is no shortage of people wanting to immigrate here.

    We need to control our borders, choose how many immigrants we want in, then allow that many and no more. They should come evenly from other countries.

    We’re headed for a bi-lingual society politically divided.

    This is our last chance to prevent this disaster — as the protests proved, immigrants are coming in by the millions — enough to change our laws to their benefit.

  14. In NYT today: Guillermo Gomez-Pena, a performance artist and writer born in Mexico has coined a term for all this: “original sin”.

  15. Well apart from the fact that your economy would implode were it not for immigrant labour, all persons have human rights. Good to see americans haven’t lost sight of that. You really are the most backward and racist country in the Western hemisphere. Well done!

  16. *** California whas Spanish territory. There the anglos where the foreigners. ***

    This whole argument — California is really “ours,” not “yours” and so we should be able to flood into the state from Mexico unregulated — is completely bogus.

    Mexico “inherited” California and other Western states by default when the Spanish empire started crumbling and claimed the territory for — what — forty years? After the U.S. took control, there were about 80,000 people in the entire state who had previously claimed Mexican citizenship. Almost all of them took American citizenship and stayed here — they didn’t move to Mexico only to return later. Those former Mexicans became Americans, and they are OUR ancestors. Their descendents have been here for a century and a half.

    I’d also like to point out that California was claimed by the Spanish long, long before any Spaniards or Mexicans ever even set foot in the territory. They only set up the mission system and politically motivated emmigration here in order to claim the territory from all the Russians and British who were starting to become interested in hunting here, etc.

  17. “How is carrying the flag of another nation patriotic?”

    It’s not and no claim was made by the author that he was referring to the flag-carrying, specifically, as what he felt was patriotic. What *is* patriotic, however, is speaking up and making your voice heard. The immigrants (be they Mexican, Venezuelan, Cuban, Thai, or Chinese) that come to America do so for the same reasons that my ancestors came here from Ireland (who came over illegally on a merchant ship, incidentally) over 150 years ago — to make a better life for themselves.

    I agree that illegal immigration is potentially dangerous. This is why we should allow *anyone* who is healthy and not a felon to enter the country to live, work, vote, and pay taxes.

  18. What about Canadian Border?

    How come the HR bill doesn’t recommend building a fence along the Canadian border?

    Maybe, the 5000-mile stretch of the United States – Canadian northern border isn’t a priority.


    Illegal immigration viewed through a racial and ethnic lens?

    When America was thinking only about illegal aliens trying to come into the country for economical reasons they placed 8,000 patrol agents along the United States–Mexico border and only 300 on the much longer Canadian front, which includes Alaska’s boundary with western Canada.

    The New York Times reportered that there are 13 ports of entry in Montana that are not staffed between the hours of 6pm and 9am.

    If we are going to deal with the issue of illegal immigration seriously, we must not view illegal immigration simply as a “brown” issue.

    And, please, if carrying the flag of another country is unpatriotic, then please tell the President of the United States to stop sending “illegal immigrants” to fight in the war of Iraq. Yes, “illegals” are in Iraq, and are provided citizenship opportunities for fighting in the war.

    Instead of being called a nation of immigrants. We should call ourselves, a “nation of hypocrites.”

  19. Boycott Major League Baseball for being UNPATRIOTIC! How could they allow professional baseball players to wear the uniform of another country. They should all be deported back to the country they show affinity for!

    Does this sound ridiculous?

    Of course, it does, but many people, including some posters above, believe that having pride in the country of your birth is “Unpatriotic.”

    Might as well as bring back the English Empire to rule over the United States.

  20. Hmmm….maybe, just maybe, it’s because the Canadians AREN’T flooding the border in numbers sufficient to march, a half million at a time, to demand bogus “rights” earned only by legal immigrants and naturalized citizens?

    Nice attempt at race baiting, though. I’m sure you thought it was bulletproof logic.

  21. *** your economy would implode were it not for immigrant labour ***

    Immigrants do and have always helped our economy. The question is: Why should 90 percent of the immigrants now come from just one country just because they can do so illegally.

    In the past, immigrants came here in order to become American, learn English and provide a better future for their children.

    Now, so many illegal immigrants consider the U.S. just a place to come get a better paying job. They have no American dream. They don’t want to become Americans.

    Many of them move to areas where nobody speaks English, so they never have to learn.

    The United States is a sovereign country. We have the same right as any other country to control our borders.

    Illegal immigrants come in not by the thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, but by the MILLIONS annually.

    Illegal immigration is KILLING diversity in America because now our immigants are coming disproportionately from two or three countries.

  22. Isn’t it stupid, though, to march in a parade demanding that your host country admit you (even though you’ve already broke its laws upon entry)…while proudly hoisting not the Stars and Stripes, but the banner of the nation you abandoned?

    Some gratitude! It’s almost as if they don’t want to be American in the first place. So let’s not let them.

  23. Johnny Stupidseed.

    Read the Time Magazine article, Jul. 08, 2003, and read why the FBI believes that al-Qaeda recruiters are aggressively enrolling youths like with Canadian or Western European passports and good command of the English language and the North American interior.

    You see, your thought process is one-dimensional, and it makes you look rather STUPID.

    The Canadian border needs to be addressed whenever we talk about “illegal immigration.” There are millions of “illegal immigrants” in the United States from Ireland, Poland, Vietnam, China, etc.

  24. “The question is: Why should 90 percent of the immigrants now come from just one country just because they can do so illegally….”

    This text message has been making the rounds recently.


    Tell me, will you do this job?

  25. “Isn’t it stupid, though, to march in a parade demanding that your host country admit you (even though you’ve already broke its laws upon entry)…while proudly hoisting not the Stars and Stripes, but the banner of the nation you abandoned?”

    Funny, but I saw plenty of American flags in those photos. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen no breakdown of the crowd showing what percentage of those attendance immigrated to this country illegally. I was at the rally for a while and I’ve been a citizen since birth.

  26. *** I’m an Aussie, and I see the same ‘problems’ created by a false sense of colonial ownership here too. ***

    I would like to disagree with you on two counts:

    1. Australia has major immigration problems, but nothing on the scale of our illegal immigration problem. There are something like 10 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. That’s half the entire population of Australia, and Australia and the U.S. are the same size, geographically.

    2. It has nothing to do with “colonial ownership.” America is the most racially, ethnically and religiously diverse nation on Earth. The only thing that binds us as a whole is the English language and American culture. Without “melting,” there is no “melting pot.” Illegal immigration is threating that. It’s not about land. It’s about culture and language.

    Illegal immigrants, it must be said, are coming here — we’re not going there — because American culture and values built a vibrant economy and culture. In order to keep that vibrancy, we must be able to have balanced, controlled immigration, not wildly unbalanced out-of-control immigration.

  27. *** Tell me, will you do this job? ***

    I’m in my 40s. When I was a teenager, it was teenagers who cooked food, washed dishes, mowed lawns, etc.

    Illegal immigrants do better work for far cheaper than teenagers, so now teenagers can’t get work anymore.

    Will I do the jobs that illegal immigrants do? No, but my teenage son would love to. But he can’t get a job.

    Teenagers don’t work anymore because of illegal immigration. It’s just one of a hundred problems created by uncontrolled illegal immigration.

  28. If we want to blame someone for the “illegal immigration” problem in the U.S. Blame GW Bush! Why? Because he’s part of an administration that has been promoting US immigration to Mexican residents. Why? Because Bush needed the economy to turn itself around after 9/11. And, of course, it did. He’s the one, we should be yelling at!

  29. *** Such an amazing day. I am proud of mi raza. ***

    Proud of your race? Jesus.

  30. By the way, I think it’s worth pointing out that the most popular methods of illegal immigration advocacy — marching in the streets and calling for work shutdowns — are very harmful to the cause.

    Yes, we know illegal immigrants are coming into our country in such large numbers that they are gaining power over our political and economic processes.


  31. Johnny Appleseed makes perfect sense, which is why I guess that guy had to resort to calling him stupid.

  32. It’s interesting that some commenters here consider it “unpatriotic” to carry the flag of your home country in your current country. I would guess that they were so carried to remind people of the ties between the two countries, and the ties between their destinies.

    Patriotism seems to take on a pretty limited meaning in parts of America and certain other ultra-nationalist states. In order to be a patriot in those countries you must renounce affection or alignment with any other country. That’s a pretty limited view of citizenship.

    I think it’s possible to be a patriot of more than one place at once. True patriotism is commitment and positive action. Positive action requires understanding and that requires thought. Jingo-istic ultranationalist patriotism requires blind faith and narrow allegiance, which almost seems to eliminate the thinking that real patriotism requires.

    I would say the marchers were being patriots of both their countries.

    Just a view from Canukistan. (Coming to getcha, arm your fence!)

  33. Hugh, are you aware that in Mexico it is a crime to fly the American flag? Yes, you can be thrown in jail for flying foreign colors there. Kinda ironic.

  34. Sam –

    And in America, if you fly a foreign flag people will only call you unpatriotic. Unless, of course, it’s a Confederate flag, in which people will rally around you in the name of southern pride and not, I’m assuming, for the cause of dissolving the United States.

  35. *** And in America, if you fly a foreign flag people will only call you unpatriotic. Unless, of course, it’s a Confederate flag, in which people will rally around you in the name of southern pride and not, I’m assuming, for the cause of dissolving the United States. ***

    Actually, in America there is a wild diversity of opinion on everything. Some will call you unpatriotic for flying a foreign flag, but most will not. And the majority are against the Confederate flag.

    This whole immigration issue is in part about whether illegal immigrants are coming to JOIN the American dream or coming to USE our economy to make a few bucks to send “home” to Mexico. In that context, waiving a Mexican flag is probably not helpful.


  36. Mexican flags establish cultural identity, not allegiance.

    It’s the simplest, most iconic method of saying, “Hi, we moved here from Mexico.”

    The Mexican flags in these pictures aren’t about governments or an abstract sense of loyalty. They’re about roots and family, about humans who have something in common, and who can rely on that strength of commonality in a new country.

    Which, you know, was the whole point — sharing the message: “This is who we are, and we are, by choice, HERE. We are this, but We are also You. So stop freaking out.”

    I saw a huge number of Irish flags at my city’s St Patrick’s Day parade earlier this month. People were selling them on street corners. And I’m certain that nobody was even remotely offended at that annual display of outrageous Irish patriotism.

    How come?

  37. There’s something unique about all this protest business. Boiled down to its essence, the marchers’ message is:

    “Now that we’ve snuck into your country against the wishes of the American public and in violation of your laws, WE DEMAND OUR RIGHTS!!”

    Only in America.


  38. “This whole immigration issue is in part about whether illegal immigrants are coming to JOIN the American dream or coming to USE our economy to make a few bucks to send “home” to Mexico.”

    And just like flying a flag (foreign, Confederate or American) there is a wild diversity of opinion as to what consitutes the American dream. Is it religious or political freedom? A successful career? Or is it just being able to make ends meet and keep your family clothed, fed and sheltered? Even if they *are* in Mexico? Frankly, I think it speaks highly of anyone who is willing to risk their lives to come to this country, work hard and then send some of that hard-earned money to their families in an effort to take care of them.

    Of course, if it’s lost tax revenue and that you’re worried about, we could easily take care of that by allowing immigrants to work here legally and pay into our system.

  39. *** Just a view from Canukistan ***

    Actually, I think Canukistan has much to teach us about immigration policy and reform. Canadian immigration is very skills based — the country goes out of its way to bring in workers with skilss the country requires.

    Of course, all that would be irrelevant if a million illegal immigrants with completely unknown skills came flooding in each year.


  40. Indeed, Mike.

    One of the deepest American values is the provision of fundamental rights — rights with which all humans are born! — to those who need them most.

    That’s been accompanied by a long tradition of petition and protest, to make sure the “American public” doesn’t entirely forget.

    Some of us seem to have forgotten anyway.

  41. They’re not marching for their right to march. Nobody is calling for anyone’s rights to free speech, etc. to be curtailed.

    They’re marching to block the modest reform of our immigration laws.

    Human rights have nothing to do with this, other than the basic human right for citizens of a democracy to determine their own immmigration policy.


  42. I’m sick of illegal mexicans RUINING our cities. Rude, dirty, obnoxious, and with an IQ of -0, you see these roaches tearing places up like a piece of trash. Toss them back over the border and shoot them when they try to scurry back. Put their employers in prision. Otherwise we’re really going to turn into mexico…a worthless breeder state of illiterate catholics.

  43. Not only does Canada have much to teach us about immigration, Mexico has something to teach us as well.

    When they catch people sneaking into Mexico on their Southern border, they round ’em up and send ’em back, no questions asked.

    Great idea, Mexico!!


  44. My experience with America and Americans (I’ve lived and worked there a couple of times, on the left and right coasts) puts me in full agreement with the suggestion that American is a place with a diversity of opinions, on this issue as much as any. It’s worth noting that all those Mexicans, who do indeed have to “sneak in” aren’t “taking jobs” in the sense of snatching them, they’re being given jobs by Americans who want to give them to them.

    But I think the larger question is: what gives a nation the right to exclude people from it? I’m not necessarily saying there isn’t such a right, but given that America and Canada are both overwhelmingly immigrant nations, it takes some tricky ethical manuevering to draw a line around some people and say “these people are citizens and their desires are enforceable via the democratic method” and “these people are aliens and their desires must be blocked lest they harm the citizens”.

  45. “They’re marching to block the modest reform of our immigration laws.”

    Modest reform? The law in question would make it a crime to knowingly assist, in any manner, anyone who is here illegally. This would include clergy who medical aid charities who offer clothing, food or healthcare.

    I rarely, if ever, agree with Cardinal Mahoney, but his letter to President Bush merits reading:

  46. *** I’m sick of illegal mexicans RUINING our cities. ***

    I agree with part of your post but find the bulk of it very offensive.

    The problem isn’t that Mexicans have an “IQ of Zero” — Mexicans of course are just as intelligent as anyone else.

    The problem isn’t that there’s anything wrong with Mexicans. I happen to love Mexicans, Mexico and Mexican culture.

    The problem would be the same if people from ANY country came flooding disproportionately into the United States.

    I also disagree with your call to “shoot them.”

    There is no need to shoot or insult anyone here, and by saying such things you invalidate yourself as someone to be listened to.


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