Despite the rain, community members and organizers demonstrated Nov. 27 at Chicano Park. The rally was in support of self-determination for colonized peoples in the U.S. and around the world. A local coalition consisting of the Brown Berets de Aztlan, People Over Profits, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation organized the event.

Speakers made a series of demands inspired by the history of Chicano Park and recent immigrant rights mobilizations. They also asked the wider community to consider the bloody history of the United States. They called for oppressed communities in San Diego and beyond to challenge the system that marginalizes them — a system that predates Donald Trump’s election.

José Cortés, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate challenging Duncan Hunter’s congressional seat in the 50th district, introduced the rally and read a series of coalition demands.

“We realize that the police, la migra, occupy our communities just as the U.S. Army occupies foreign countries,” Cortés said to the crowd. “Only by organizing a working-class army for national liberation can we seek to actually be free and end police brutality and genocide against our communities.”

José Cortés speaks at rally. | Liberation photo

Cortés also called for the release of members of the local community from law enforcement. “Our communities are constantly being targeted for harassment by the police, are constantly being criminalized and bundled into a prison-industrial complex that profits off of their labor and profits off their suffering,” he proclaimed. The prison labor he alluded to includes the manufacturing of goods as well as firefighting during the recent spate of fires around Sonoma County.

The speaker from People Over Profits elaborated on the local demands:

“We need to worry about people who are here locally who have positions in office who are also helping document our lives — who are helping to fund the war against the people.”  They believe Duncan Hunter and other Republicans have endorsed School Board candidate Michael Cisneros due to his support of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies. Also mentioned was a charter school owner who is organizing through the “Time for Change” campaign against teachers’ unions and public schooling in San Diego.

The Brown Berets raised the need to connect with the community and indigenous roots, calling for the wider community to join them in the ongoing fight for immigrant lives. As one community member said: “We need your support, because none of this happens without you. Believe or not, those children that are being locked up, separated from their families, this is why we are also out here for today, to remind [the community].”

This local coalition formed in response to ongoing threats to immigrants. The coalition acts in the spirit of the Close the Concentration Camps marches, the first of which occurred this past July in San Ysidro. Thousands of people from all over California participated in that action.

As the media frenzy cycles around the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump, local community members have taken it upon themselves to highlight and resist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and policies of U.S. imperialism against sovereign nations abroad and colonized peoples at home.