How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: May Day downtown, today

Photo by Mae Ryan/KPCC

A protester wheels "aliens," including an E.T. doll, down the street in downtown Los Angeles, May 1, 2012

KPCC's Mae Ryan has been in downtown L.A. this afternoon snapping photos of various protesters as a series of May Day marches converge, including an immigrant rights march.

This protester wins the prize for creativity. From Mae's notes: "A man carts aliens with shirts that read "I don't want to be an Alien. I want to be legal." We had no idea, E.T. Now you're out.

More on the day's rallies at; also, a post on Multi-American explores the directions in which the immigrant rights movement has gone since the historic May Day rallies of 2006.


American snapshot: A worker on Workers' Day, downtown

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

American flags and wide-brimmed hats for sale at a May Day immigrant rights rally in downtown L.A., May 1, 2011

One of several May Day rallies taking place in Los Angeles today is an immigrant rights march downtown this afternoon, the latest in a series of annual large rallies organized by immigrant rights advocates each May 1 since 2006, the year of the so-called “Great American Boycott.” 

A constant presence during these marches are the people who are work them, not as organizers but as entrepreneurs. They are almost exclusively immigrants, business-minded individuals who come to the rallies with their hot dog and paleta carts or coolers loaded with sliced fruit to cater to hungry protesters, who arrive toting wide-brimmed hats to sell to those wanting to fend off the sun, or who bring along a load of miniature plastic American flags for the patriotically inclined.

During last year's May Day immigrant rights march in Los Angeles, which drew about 4,000 people downtown, I snapped several portraits of these enterprising workers who never let up. Because they are in the land of opportunity for a reason.