Demonstrators line up along Broadway in front of the Bayshore Mall advocating for workers' rights on May Day.
A caravan of cars will circle through Eureka this evening, calling for society to put “people over profits.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown the flaws in our institutions,” reads a press release announcing the caravan. “It’s also showing how much we need each other and how powerful we can be when we stand together.”
The demonstration comes as the second in a series of protests co-sponsored by a diverse group of organizations, including the Humboldt and Del Norte Central Labor Council, Centro del Pueblo, North Coast People’s Alliance, Cooperation Humboldt, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Buenlucha, Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Democratic Socialists of America. As was the case with a May Day, today’s protest is being organized to ensure participants can strictly adhere to physical distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the May Day demonstration, organizers set up a greeting table with face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for those who needed them, and marked off 10-foot intervals in the Bayshore Mall parking lot, giving those waiting for the demonstration to begin room to keep at least 6 feet apart at all times. Then, at precisely 5 p.m., the demonstrators marched up to Broadway, where organizers had also chalked off 10-foot intervals along the sidewalk. After the curbside demonstration, participants marched back to the parking lot in a single-file line and got in cars for a caravan through Eureka in support of immigrants’ rights and frontline workers.
“The reason it worked like clockwork is because this group had been meeting every three to five days,” Cooperation Humboldt Co-founder David Cobb said of the event.
The idea behind the string of events, Cobb said, is to stand up for workers, to make sure “essential” doesn’t come to mean sacrificial.
“We don’t know how long this will last but we know workers will need our voices,” he said, adding that to date federal stimulus programs have favored corporations over workers. "To be perfectly blunt, the resistance is not being led by Nancy Pelosi or Democrats in Washington, D.C. The resistance is being led and organized by everyday people fighting for the issues that are important to them … What world do we want?”
A press release announcing today’s event notes Humboldt County’s COVID-19 related spike in unemployment and the patchwork of temporary eviction moratoriums passed throughout the county.
“What about those mom-and-pop landlords who are just trying to pay their mortgage?” the press release asks. “We need more than eviction moratoriums, we need rent and mortgage relief. We need the government and the banks to bail us out this time. … Join us June 1 in calling for rent and mortgage relief, no evictions/no foreclosures, protections/relief for undocumented workers and healthcare for all — in a safe, socially distanced car and bike caravan around Eureka.”
The event will begin with a “spacious demonstration” in the WinCo parking lot at 5 p.m., with the caravan departing around 5:25 p.m.
Cobb said COVID-19 has put into focus that the problem we collectively face isn’t a specific issue.
“The issue is power,” he said. “The issue is the system. The system has exposed itself and COVID-19 is putting it in stark relief that you have to pick a side and this isn’t a theoretical ideology. This is who lives and who dies. Which side are you on?”