May 1st is a holiday in Mexico, and on any holiday you can expect the lines to cross into the U.S. to be substantially longer than normal. But today is a different day. Less than 1 percent of the normal traffic crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S.
At Balboa Park in San Diego, tens of thousands gathered to remember those who have died crossing the border and celebrate their unity. At the corner of Juniper and Sixth, a small group of people waving flags started calling others to march. People started to follow, and the police quickly stepped in to try and stop the crowd. The group chanted “Si se puede” and walked past the police and began to march through the city. The police worked quickly to clear a path, blocking streets as if it were a planned parade. Organizers of the rally ran to the front of the line, but were unsuccessful in dissuading the crowd’s action.
The organizers and police decided to guide the crowd to City Hall. The group ignored several blockades and twisted their own path through the city. At the entrances to the highways, police were standing with bags of riot cuffs at the ready. Once the crowd reached the closed and vacant City Hall, they turned through the Horton Plaza entrance and looped back to rejoin the tail of the crowd, heading back to Balboa Park.
Throughout the impromptu march, the participants remained calm and peaceful. In the end, the same officer who pleaded with one of the leaders to turn around shook hands and thanked him for managing to lead them back around safely and peacefully. Those at the front of the march were young and passionate. While the group was unorganized, they worked together and followed each other’s lead. There were no egos or celebrities leading the group. It was clear that a newfound confidence, strength and power emerged tonight.