May Day: Yes, They Could (Almost)


Almost six months to the day, Kenny “the Megaphone Guy” Agosto was right where Power Plays last saw him: on buzzing Fordham Road at lunchtime, megaphone at the ready. The previous occasion was Freddy Ferrer’s Election Day swan song. Today it was the human chain for immigrant rights. Agosto became a cult hero during the mayoral campaign for his boundless energy and volume. But even he was having more fun Monday at the plaza where Fordham intersects with the Grand Concourse. Gesturing up and down the road, he smiled and said, “This beats politics.”

The chain linked up shortly after noon and managed to assemble bodies from Jerome Avenue almost to Webster Avenue; they would have made it all the way (as planned) if people had thinned the ranks a bit more. It didn’t matter. There was a cacophony of chanting (“Si se puede,” of course, being the theme), a lot of supportive honking from passing drivers, and a colorful assemblage of flags. A few Latinas were even gracious enough to wave Swiss and Canadian flags to supplement the abundant Dominican and Mexican colors. In the spirit of May Day, there were a couple red flags, although a guy who was holding one said he had no idea what it meant and got it when he donated money to something. A few stores shut for the event; others shrugged it off, and their immigrant workers had to bring in deliveries while their hermanas y hermanos shouted nearby. One food cart near the Metro North stop seemed to have closed for the day, but its owner still dragged it out there for everyone to see. Nice touch.

While Fordham Road showed little sign of any general strike or boycott, anecdotal evidence from the crowd suggested that quite a number of people had stayed away from work. Some called in sick. Others shut their own businesses down. The economic impact might not be felt anywhere but their own pockets, but folks acted like there was no way they could miss it. “Everybody gotta come,” said William Flores, “because everybody gotta live.”