Today while driving home from work, I thought I had missed the march, that the heavy traffic through downtown was just the tail end. I came home and went about my business, but later when I turned on the TV, I learned that the American Apparel marchers were heading down Alameda. The news reporter called them “a splinter group” that had illegally marched without a permit off the planned route. I guess she didn’t recognize their Legalize LA t-shirts and it didn’t occur to her that they were probably just heading back to work at the factory. I had the sudden urge to join them. They were at Alameda and 1st. I looked for my sign from the march in 2006, grabbed my phone, my ID, debit card and keys, (what else could I need?) and ran out the door. I got to the corner of Alameda and third just as the group was passing through the intersection. I stood at the corner short of breath, holding my sign as high as I could. I got some stares, a few honks and some glares from the numerous cops. Once they passed through the intersection, I ran across the street to join them. I asked one woman holding her child, “Vamos a American Apparel?” after she looked confused when I asked in English. She smiled and said “yes” and I kept walking. Soon a young guy ran up to me and asked if could talk to me. He said he is writing for the American Apparel blog. He was shocked and thrilled to see a white person amongst them. I told him my story and reasons for being there, that I was told that my great-grandmother came here on a fake passport. Who knows if it is completely accurate, but regardless she left Eastern Europe in search of a better life – how is that any different? We agreed this is not a Latino issue, it is an American issue and that South and Central America are still America. Wilmer gave me a bottle of water and recorded a sound bite for his blog. He took my number and we talked the whole rest of the way to the factory. At the gate I shook his hand, although he invited me in for tacos, I had to get back to work. Thanks Wilmer!
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