Downtown Miami

May Day march for labor rights draws hundreds in downtown Miami

Natalia Hernandez marches in downtown Miami on Sunday, May 1, 2016, for a March Against Discrimination and Hate in commemoration of May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day.
Natalia Hernandez marches in downtown Miami on Sunday, May 1, 2016, for a March Against Discrimination and Hate in commemoration of May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. For el Nuevo Herald

Gabriel Garcia Vera says he knows what it’s like to watch people you love struggle to keep food on the table and a roof over their head.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, the 27-year-old, who now lives in Miami, said his mother was a domestic worker and “fought to earn a living wage.”

Now, Garcia Vera, who works for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, said he does whatever he can to fight for “a fair and dignified salary for all workers.”

To help him in his mission, Garcia Vera joined hundreds of people in downtown Miami on Sunday for a March Against Discrimination and Hate in commemoration of May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day.

The group, many of whom were carrying signs that read “Stop the hate,” “We Count” and “Protection not Deportation,” began at Government Center with speeches from the leaders of several nonprofit organizations.

“We are here demanding a government that represents people of every color and creed and religion,” said 21-year-old Ari Colston, a member of the Dream Defenders, from a makeshift stage set up in Government Center. “The people united will never be defeated.”

Organizer Thomas Kennedy said they expected 500 participants from more than 25 local organizations. The goal was to “get people of power” to hear them. Among those marching: former Congressman Joe Garcia, who is running for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

“We are here to celebrate immigrant labor, while pushing a progressive people’s platform that takes the community into account and demands an end to the climate of hate that has permeated into the presidential election,” Kennedy said.

Among the marchers was Gihan Perera, the director of The New Florida Majority, a nonprofit that deals with voter rights.

Perera, who immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka when he was 4, called the march a “movement of the people.”

“It’s essentially a unity rally,” he said. “It shows the diversity of our community and celebrates inclusiveness instead of division and hate.”

Carli Teproff: 305-376-3587, @CTeproff

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