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May 02, 2006 - Image 2

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-02

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Boycotts mark nationwide day of protests

Immigrants walk off jobs, into
streets to show economic clout

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hundreds of thousands
mostly Hispanic immigrants skipped work and took to t
streets yesterday, flexing their newfound political muscle
a nationwide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shuttir
many farms, factories, markets and restaurants.
From Los Angeles to Chicago, New Orleans to Housto
the "Day Without Immigrants" attracted widespread panic
pation despite divisions among activists over whether a bo
cott would send the right message to Washington lawmake
considering sweeping immigration reform.
"I want my children to know their mother is not a crim
nal," said Benita Olmedo, a nanny who came to the Unit
States illegally in 1986 from Mexico and pulled her 11-yea
old daughter and seven-year-old son from school to march
San Diego. "I want them to be as strong I am. This shows o
strength."
Police estimated 300,000 people marched through Ch
sago's business district, and hundreds of thousands mo
were expected at rallies in New York and Los Angele
Smaller rallies were planned in more than 50 other citi(
across the nation.
In heavily Hispanic Perth Amboy, N.J., a normally bu
ting business district was quiet and still. Block after bloc
of record shops, cafes and produce stores were shutteri

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on the usually traffic-choked street.
In the Los Angeles area, normally bustling restaurants and
markets were dark and truckers avoided the nation's largest
shipping port. About one in three small businesses was closed
downtown, including the cluttered produce market and fash-
ion district.
Industries that rely on immigrant workers were clearly
affected, though the impact was not uniform.
Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, shut-
tered about a dozen of its more than 100 plants and saw "high-
er-than-usual absenteeism" at others. Most of the closures
were in states such as Iowa and Nebraska. Eight of 14 Perdue
Farms chicken plants also closed for the day.
Organizers of the rallies instructed protesters to wear
white and bring American flags to symbolize peaceful
intentions and love of the United States. Many carried
signs in Spanish that translated to "We are America" and
"Today we march, tomorrow we vote." Others waved Mex-
ican flags or wore hats and scarves from their native coun-
tries. Some chanted "USA" while others shouted slogans,
such as "Si se puede!," Spanish for "Yes, it can be done!"
"We are the backbone of what America is - legal or ille-
gal - it doesn't matter," said Melanie Lugo, who was among
thousands attending a rally in Denver with her husband and
their third-grade daughter.
"We butter each other's bread. They need us as much as we
n-rthm" c cnr

.~ T~. /7

ed nA demonstrator rallies in downtown Los Angeles yesterday. Thousands of Illegal
See BOYCOTT, page 3 immigrants and supporters boycotted work and shopping to flex economic strength.
M UNSON
Continued from page 1
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