Lucy Siale, a high school student from Walnut Creek, stood in the back of a pickup truck and faced the hundreds of people who had come to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on Saturday.
“We are showing up for the 800,000 people who have been targeted this past week,” Siale shouted into the microphone, her voice echoing from the speakers strapped to the roof of the truck with twine.
Cheering in response was the crowd of about 1,000 that had gathered in the Oakland plaza at 2 p.m. that day to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which gives those who immigrated to the United States as minors a chance to defer deportation action and obtain a Social Security number and a work permit.
Under Trump’s new decision, DACA will be gone in six months. About 800,000 people in America are DACA recipients.
UC President Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she and the UC Board of Regents are suing the Trump administration over its decision to rescind DACA.
At the front of the crowd, a large area was cleared to make room for those with disabilities, with several sign language interpreters on hand to translate every speech.
Marlene Gutierrez, a DACA recipient whose parents brought her from Mexico to America at two years old, addressed the crowd in English and then Spanish, dressed in a traditional Mexican dress. She challenged those who told her that she had “nothing to offer,” stating that she was heavily involved in community education and that her parents came in search of a better life.
“I will not apologize for coming here illegally,” Gutierrez said. “There may not be a piece of paper to say we are American, but it is written across our hearts and minds.”
Representing the Jakara Movement, a grassroots organization to support Sikhs in California, Palvinder Kaur condemned the ‘model-minority’ stereotype of Asian immigrants, stating that it ignores those who are still struggling. She went on to state that there are more than 10,000 people of South Asian descent who are DACA recipients.
Many people brought handmade signs, with slogans such as “Protect the UnDACAmented Students” and a long, butterfly-decorated canvas reading “Rise With the Dreamers.” Several people of Brazilian descent brought Brazilian instruments to march with, including a green, hand-painted berimbau.
The protesters marched down Broadway Street, turning onto Clay Street and returning back in a one-mile loop to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, where trays of food — spaghetti, cornbread, fruit, sweet potatoes and rice — were laid out. A small band brought their guitars out for a few performances in the grass.
According to the Oakland Police Department, no one was arrested or injured at the protest.
On Tuesday, after Trump’s decision to overturn DACA, Siale began to send out emails and make phone calls to community activists. She said that without the support and resources of the community, the event would not have been possible — especially with regards to making it accessible to people with disabilities. Siale said she is planning another rally in Walnut Creek.
“We tend to start getting involved when it’s too late,” Siale said. “If we did these types of actions when Obama was still president, maybe we could have made some changes.”