ps/o4 public trading | value system | anti-imperialism and boombox politics
value system dispatch number 6
"¡Amnistía!" is composed entirely from recordings made May Day, 2000 at demonstrations for immigrant rights in New York City. Organized by labor unions in the New York Metropolitan area, the day-long protest for amnesty for undocumented immigrant workers began with a rally in Union Square. The over 1000 union members and immigrant-rights supporters marched down Broadway to City Hall. Also on hand were Reclaim the Streets activists who had earlier in the day committed acts of guerilla gardening. The NYPD were also out in force, numbering protesters nearly 10 to 1. Rumors that activists would attempt to shut down Wall Street compelled the NYPD to effectively do the job themselves blocking every entrance to the financial district.
In the wake of unregulated globalized capital—the sort of free market dogma espoused by Wall Street interests—the struggle for international labor rights has become a touchstone for worldwide solidarity among third world activists, labor unions and human rights organizations. While economic and political institutions protect the flow of capital across borders, workers compelled to migrate by those same economic forces face brutal persecution, legal harassment and inhumane working conditions.
Following the September 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, the plight of immigrants nationwide became even more critical. While the Justice Department launched a campaign of intimidation and detention for thousands of immigrants, even the tallying of immigrant deaths at Ground Zero became a matter of controversy. Official death tolls list only one undocumented worker to have died in the Twin Towers disaster—a twenty-two year old Ecuadoran named Henry Fernandez. However, the numbers are likely higher. The Tepeyac Association, a community organization specifically serving Mexican-Americans living in New York City, has reported at least sixty-six undocumented workers missing as a result of the WTC collapse.
Meanwhile, across the nation, the political momentum surrounding immigrant amnesty experienced an about face. Instead of expanding the rights of immigrants, the US far-right political regime has sought greater powers to detain, deport, imprison and suppress the civil liberties of immigrants. Along with intensification of border militarization, the US government has made it more difficult for immigrants to join labor unions whereby US workers can secure health insurance, collective bargaining, living wages and back-pay for wages lost during a strike.
And yet, despite a period of retreat, by the end of 2002 organizations like the National AFL-CIO had announced plans to renew the amnesty campaign. For the 6 million undocumented immigrant workers in the United States, the issue of amnesty remains a priority regardless the political resolve of those in power.
The struggle for immigrant rights is not merely the struggle of those on the margins. It is the struggle of the multitude in an age of globalized destabililzation.
Written + produced by ultra-red. Licensed from Comatonse Recordings. Published by ListMat (ASCAP). Site recording + images by NY Operative Knut Asdam. Mastered by John Tejada.