I left work a bit early today to meet Katty downtown at the Federal Plaza for the Immigrant Rights demonstration. I didn’t really know what to expect. As I was getting off of the “L” I could hear the crowd of people. As I turned the corner I was greeted by a huge amount of people as well as the mounted police, as seen in the picture above.
As I continued onward, the crowd got thicker until it was difficult to move forward. Entire families had shown up, generation upon generation of Chicago immigrants as well as the 10s of thousands of people who came from out of town. It was literally a sea of people! Each of them with a smile on their face – thrilled to be participating in this historic event.
Katty had told me that they were expecting 20,000+ people – but the enormous crowd struck me. The police estimated 100,000! When the people cheered or chanted it reverberated through the streets of the city, penetrating the windows and walls of the surrounding office buildings. I couldn’t hear Mayor Daily or Senator Obama speak because of all of the noise.. but that didn’t matter. Seeing the Latinos, Irish, Koreans, Polish and others together in solidarity, peacefully marching and chanting, waving the U.S. flag as well as the flags of their own countries was enough – hope welled up inside of me.
As I assisted handing out flyers, I felt all of Chicago looking down upon us. I hope that this was a wakeup call to them as well, for they were looking at the people that help make this great city work. The throngs of people clogging up the arteries of Chicago – practically bringing it to a stop – serves as a metaphor to what could happen if bills such as HR4437 were to pass. Making undocumented immigrants and those who assist them felons is not a solution. We, the citizens of the United States, need to open our eyes and our hearts to those who are very much the same as our colonial ancestors.
Looking around the crowd today I couldn’t help but to imagine the birth of the U.S., where groups of people from all countries were welcome with open arms. Perhaps they too gathered in solidarity, peacefully waving the U.S. flag.
With the distant sound of media helicopters above the city, I await to hear the reaction of the rest of my fellow citizens – and I do so filled with hope.