May Day in Bay Area:

Cynthia McKinney at Antiwar & Immigrant Rights Actions

[May 1, 2008, was a historic day as 25,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) shut down 29 ports up and down the entire West Coast to demand an immediate end to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Longshore workers, other union members, and antiwar activists marched and rallied on the waterfront in San Francisco in the morning to highlight the shutdown and to “Reclaim May Day.”

[Clarence Thomas, of ILWU Local 10, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Could you imagine if this shutdown were all the major sectors of the economy? It would send a message that this war must end. It’s killing our children and diverting resources from domestic needs.”

[Among the keynote speakers at the rally was independent presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, who canceled a long-planned international trip to be able to participate with the longshore workers in the May Day actions in the San Francisco Bay Area.

[Below are McKinney’s remarks to the May Day Longshore Rally, along with some notes she wrote the night of May 1.

[McKinney also spoke at two other events during May Day: (1) an immigrant rights rally in the San Francisco Civic Center, and (2) an immigrant rights rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland.

[McKinney did not have prepared remarks for those two presentations. The remarks were taped and will be transcribed as soon as possible.

[Here are a few of the salient points made by Cynthia McKinney in her presentation at the Civic Center in San Francisco:

[She said she was proud to have participated in the rally with the longshore workers in support of their central demand to end the war in Iraq, to bring the troops home now, and to fund human needs, not war.

[She said she was proud to be speaking at a rally in support of immigrant workers in the United States, and in particular in support of their demands for unconditional amnesty and full labor rights. She added that as a Black woman, she understood full well the meaning of the discrimination, oppression, and hatred that are being heaped upon immigrants coming from Latin America.

[She said that as part of the struggle to defend immigrant workers, it is necessary to repeal the “Free Trade” agreements that are destroying millions of jobs throughout the Americas, forcing people to risk life and limb crossing the border to find a means to sustain their families.

[We have to support the right of people south of our border not to emigrate, she added. They don’t want to leave their families and break up their communities. They are forced to leave their countries to feed their families because of the policies imposed by our own government and corporations.

[She said she was proud to have stood side by side with Andrés Manuel López Obrador and with 10,000 women “Brigadistas” only a few weeks ago in Mexico City at a rally where they were demanding an immediate halt to the proposed “reform” aimed at privatizing Mexico’s oil resources, allowing U.S. corporations access to that wealth.

[She concluded by stressing the need to build a powerful movement for immigrant rights, anchored in the combined struggles of Black and Latino workers. We must build the Black-Brown alliance, she insisted.]

Cynthia McKinney’s Notes, Evening of May 1, 2008

Hello! Today was a beautiful day. Longshore and warehouse workers all up and down the West Coast, from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico, refused to go to work for eight hours and rallied against the war instead. This work stoppage included Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, the nation’s busiest and second busiest ports, respectively.

Grassroots members of the Democratic Party are unnerved at reports that Speaker Pelosi is planning yet another “blank check” war-funding bill for President Bush’s signature. Today’s action of resistance marked a distinct signal in the heart of a core constituency of the Democratic Party that something is about to change. A representative of the Freightliner Five in North Carolina joined us in San Francisco as an act of solidarity, even as they struggle against their own corporate labor leadership. Work stoppages of solidarity were reported in New Jersey, Texas, and even in Iraq! One thousand marchers, Danny Glover, and Cindy Sheehan joined me at the rally. Here are my remarks:

Remarks at ILWU Rally (San Francisco, California)

May Day, 2008

It’s a beautiful San Francisco day for a peace and dignity strike!

One day off to put peace and justice on the table! Today’s action is as historically significant as the decision of four young university students who sat in for justice.

The strong, proud men and women of the ILWU have drawn a line in the sand. And I am proud of you!

By your actions here today, you too have declared your independence: from the policy makers now responsible for every bomb dropped, every child killed, every veteran maimed, every dream deferred.

Your line in the sand is a demand for public policy that reflects your values.

Your line in the sand:

A livable wage,

Repeal of the Bush tax cuts,

Repeal of the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act.

The right to unionize,

Single-payer health care,

Repeal of NAFTA,

An end to the Bush-Pelosi war.

Military Recruiters out and more teachers in our classrooms!

Nancy Pelosi wants to sneak another war-funding bill to the President.

She thinks we don’t know. She thinks we won’t care. She thinks she can bushwhack and bamboozle us from the Speaker’s Chair.

But Nancy, we’re watching you! In fact, the whole world is watching.

We see you when you choose to spend $720 million a day for war and yet teachers are being laid off in your district!

Speaker Pelosi, we see you when you remain silent on torture that violates the law; irreparably harms and sometimes even kills the innocent, and robs us all of our dignity as Americans.

Speaker Pelosi, and my former colleagues, how can you continue to give a half-trillion dollars annually to the Pentagon — an institution that’s “lost” $2.3 trillion, and that didn’t even protect itself on September 11th?

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower told us that every dime spent on war was in a very real sense a theft from those who are in need of food, shelter, and clothing.

Senator Feinstein was forced to leave the Military Construction subcommittee because she was voting on public policy that directly benefited her husband — and hence, her own bottom line.

The ILWU and all of us gathered here today want our young men and women to come home now, alive.

All of us gathered here today understand what George Washington warned of over 200 years ago: He warned us to beware the false patriots who, by cunning and ambition, subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the very reins of government.

Snipers’ bullets and assassins stole my generation of true patriots.

One of them said, “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” Our representatives can betray our values only so long as we continue to give them our vote, because it is our votes that give them their position of power over us.

Another of my generation’s true patriots said, “Some see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say ‘Why not?’”

With our vision, values, and our votes, we can make real our dreams that never were. Why not?

Thank you!

(I travel next to Detroit to participate on May 3rd in special Water Commission hearings as the right to, and a lack of, water is being discussed by residents. For more information on my schedule, please visit