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Movimiento Cosecha plans people's march and other actions to fight for immigrant justice

From April 28 to May 1, there are several opportunities to join Movimiento Cosecha in the fight for immigrant justice. There will be an event celebrating children, a community meal, an action to support Driver's Licenses for all, and the traditional May Day march.
#ADayWithoutImmigrants march on May Day, 2017, led by Cosecha.

#ADayWithoutImmigrants march on May Day, 2017, led by Cosecha. /used with permission, Movimiento Cosecha GR

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Movimiento Cosecha Puente: April 28 - May 1

No work, no school, no shopping, including online.

Sat: 11am-2pm Día del Niño at Cesar Chavez School, 1205 Grandville Ave SW.

Sun: 2pm-5pm Community Meal, potluck style, at San Juan Diego Academy 1650 Godfrey Ave. SW.

Mon: 11am-1pm Action for our Driver's License for All campaign at Rogers Plaza, 972 28th Street SW.

Tues: 12 pm Huge march for International Workers Day that will start from Roosevelt Park at Chicago Drive & Clyde Park and will move to Downtown Grand Rapids.

More information on Facebook.  

Planning meeting on Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m. at The Worker's Center, 2010 Kalamazoo SE.

The flyer for the Puente.

The flyer for the Puente. /used with permission, Movimiento Cosecha GR

Many have heard of Movimiento Cosecha GR - translated to The Harvest Movement - an immigrant justice movement that is rising in West Michigan. In a short 14 months, this collection of local grassroots organizers has highlighted the lives and struggles of the immigrant community - especially those who are under-documented - in West Michigan. They’ve done so with several actions: large marches, including the May Day march of 2017; a Walmart boycott that’s still in effect; a turkey boycott over the holidays to highlight the abuse of turkey processing workers; and support for the local DACA movement.

But, according to Karla Barberi and Gema Lowe, two Cosecha organizers, the immigrant community can’t afford to rest on previous accomplishments. In the face of increased rates of arrests, raids, detentions and deportations by I.C.E. (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) they are pushing ever forward with actions that call for all immigrants in the U.S. to have dignity, respect, and permanent protection.

That’s why they are not simply repeating the successful May Day march of last year, which brought out an estimated 4000 people at its height. This year, the Cosecha organizers are supporting the immigrant community in a four-day Puente. The Puente will be a four-day strike and boycott: no work, no school, and no shopping, including online, unless it's at immigrant-owned businesses.

Puente means ‘bridge,’” explained Gema Lowe in a recent meeting. Lowe is also the director of The Workers’ Center. “In Mexico, where I’m from, when a holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, one day away from the weekend, we call that day in the middle el puente, the bridge. It’s very informal - workers or students in schools can decide whether or not they are going to ‘take the puente.’ That is, are they going to take that day off and make it a four-day weekend. Because May 1 falls on a Tuesday this year, ‘taking the puente’ - taking Monday off - makes this a four-day strike.”

“For Cosecha, this Puente is a way to ease us into creating longer strikes with more impact on the community. Because our families are being torn apart and disrupted, we are working toward longer disruptions - longer strikes where our community is not working, not attending school, and not shopping and spending our dollars. We will be working to rebuild our community and connections by hosting events that celebrate our children and allow us all to break bread together.”

Lowe was referring to two events planned for the weekend of the Puente. The first is the Día del Niño (Day of the Child) at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 28, held at Cesar Chavez School. The second is the Community Meal, a potluck at San Juan Diego Academy on Sunday.

Lowe continued, “On Monday and Tuesday we will also be launching our Driver’s License for All campaign, called #ManejandoSinMiedo, which translates to ‘Driving Without Fear.’ This is an issue that hits the under-documented community hard. People need to drive to work, to shop, and to participate in their children’s school activities. Yet at any moment they could be stopped for a minor traffic violation, just as anyone could be. They can be detained for not having a license, yet they cannot get a license because they don’t have all of the required documents. Once they are detained in the Kent County Jail, their information is shared with I.C.E. and they are often detained further and risk deportation, even if they have lived here for decades, even if all their family is here, even if they have never committed a crime.”

On Monday, April 30, Cosecha has planned an action at the Secretary of State office at Roger’s Plaza in Wyoming to kick off the Driver’s License campaign. It begins at 11 a.m.

“We are ‘taking this Puente’ to celebrate our community and to continue the fight for protection for all immigrants,” concluded Lowe.

Organizer Karla Barberi came to the United States from Guatemala when she was fifteen years old after a grenade had been thrown into her bedroom, an effect of the civil war in that country in the 1980s. She survived but her legs were injured - she came to the U.S. as a medical emergency.

Barberi added that at the march on Tuesday, that begins at Roosevelt Park at 12 noon, “people should expect music and a fun atmosphere. They’ll get to experience the beauty of the large and diverse Hispanic culture. People will feel empowered and will be reminded that they are not alone.”

More information can be found at the Facebook event. The event page gives suggestions for preparing for the Puente by asking for personal days or vacation from work, filling pantries ahead of time with groceries from local or immigrant-owned stores, and notifying your children’s teacher that they will not attend class as part of a civil action of resistance. People can also text Huelga (which means “strike”) to 41411 if they’d like more information, or join the Cosecha meeting on Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m. at the Worker’s Center.

Amy Carpenter is a ally member of Movimiento Cosecha GR.

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