S.F. march fills Market Street

749.jpg SAN FRANCISCO — Led by hunger strikers, some on foot and others in wheelchairs, who had fasted for a week to protest proposed anti-immigrant legislation, thousands of marchers jammed downtown Market Street March 27 on their way to a massive rally in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.

Joining longtime immigrant rights activists and their supporters were high school and college students who left their classrooms to show their opposition to the threatened criminalization of undocumented immigrants and those who help them.

The demonstration marked the culmination of a week of rallies, vigils and press conferences at the hunger strikers’ encampment outside the Federal Building.

“We are immigrants, day laborers, youth, students, women and men, and we all demand — legalization now!” said hunger striker Renee Saucedo, who heads the city’s Day Labor Program. “We are so joyous to be ending our fast here with you,” Saucedo said. “Together we are a powerful movement, not only here but all over this country,” she added, emphasizing that the immigrant rights movement “is just getting started.”

As demonstrators waited in the street below, splattered by a sudden rainstorm and packed so tightly they could hardly budge, Saucedo and fellow hunger strikers Jay Pugao and Cesar Cruz visited Feinstein’s office to deliver over 12,000 postcards calling for fair immigration reform. They returned to report their visit met with no response.

At a noontime rally earlier in the week, San Francisco Labor Council head Tim Paulson told the crowd that the entire labor movement was committed to defeating anti-immigrant legislation. Noting that the AFL-CIO has taken a positive position toward immigrants’ rights in recent years, Paulson added, “We will do everything possible to carry forward this positive stance.”