Organizers and the authorities will doubtless differ over the size of this afternoon’s immigration rights rally near City Hall. Simply put, it was really big—far bigger than one might predict given that it was on a Monday afternoon, and apparently far bigger than the police were expecting as they seemed to hurriedly block off some of the streets north of City Hall to route the traffic up Lafayette and down Broadway to the clearly overwhelmed confines of City Hall Park. By 5 p.m. the sea of flags and (mostly) brown faces stretched north of Canal Street.
Indeed, it was a big day for the flag sellers. By lunchtime the peddlers of national pride were staking out territory along the feeder routes to the rally, living proof of one marcher’s slogan, “We are an important part of the economy in this country.” The look worked: Mexican greens and Ecuador’s yellow mixed in with a fair number of Old Glories in the late afternoon sun, waved by guys in restaurant uniforms and smiling teenagers. It was pretty.
Some of the marchers cast the event as an anti-Bush rally. Backers of Resist or Die and World Cannot Wait made this case loudly. But most of the chants and signs stuck to the main idea: that the House immigration bill sucks. One sign even claimed that, “Jesus Is A (sic) Immigrant.” The bearer was a man of the cloth. It does not seem to be strictly true, of course: J.C. was poor and a radical but spent most of his life in Galilee and Judea in Palestine. But other religious-themed banners struck closer to the mark. One was: “Thank You, America … Because I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was a stranger and you ???. God Bless America.”