Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Courts See Minimal Disruption as Thousands March to Observe ‘Day Without Immigrants’
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
A major rally in downtown Los Angeles as part of the national “Day Without Immigrants” had only a small effect on court operations downtown, officials said.
Workers at the most directly affected court facility, the U.S. Courthouse on Spring Street, “got [a substantial amount of] work done,” Clerk of the Court Sherri Carter told the MetNews, although most employees were allowed to leave at noon.
The decision to clear out most of the workforce early was made late Friday night, Carter explained, at the recommendation of the U.S. marshal. The court is right near Los Angeles City Hall, site of a rally that followed a march by a crowd estimated by the mayor’s office at 250,000.
The Bankruptcy Court, located in the same building, advised those on its public e-mail list yesterday morning that it would accept Western Division (Los Angeles) filings at all of its offices for the duration of the day.
A spokesperson at the Los Angeles Superior Court said there was no effect on court operations. Employees traveling to the Foltz Criminal Justice Center and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown may have had to use alternate routes to get to work in the morning, but there were no unscheduled courtroom closings and the usual complement of jurors was present, the spokesperson said.
Court of Appeal Clerk/Administrator Joseph Lane said that his staff was at work, and that employees had little difficulty arriving because their normal workday starts early in the morning. Street closings related to the march and rally did not begin until 9:30 a.m.
The court, which is located at the Ronald Reagan Building, right along the line of march—the demonstration began at Olympic and Broadway—did experience an unusually small volume of activity at the filing window, Lane said, as it was difficult for messengers to move through the area once street closings started.
The downtown rally was one of two large ones in Los Angeles, as organizers of the second urged those who did not want to miss work or school to join them for activities beginning at 3 p.m. at MacArthur Park west of downtown.
Downtown, protesters wearing white and holding U.S. flags aloft sang the national anthem in English as traditional Mexican dancers wove through the crowd. Flags of numerous foreign countries were spotted as well.
Many carried signs in Spanish that translated to “We are America” and “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.” Others waved Mexican flags or wore hats and scarves from their native countries. Some chanted “USA” while others shouted slogans, such as “Si se puede!” Spanish for “Yes, it can be done!” Others were more irreverent, wearing T-shirts that read “I’m illegal. So what?”
The White House reacted coolly.
“The president is not a fan of boycotts,” said press secretary Scott McClellan. “People have the right to peacefully express their views, but the president wants to see comprehensive reform pass the Congress so that he can sign it into law.”
The boycott was organized by immigrant activists angered by federal legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants and fortify the U.S-Mexico border. Its goal was to raise awareness about immigrants’ economic power.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company