"A few weeks ago we had the privilege to document a demonstration put together by Power California. Hundreds of cars gathered and drove through the streets of Downtown LA. Below is a statement by Power California and the images from our experience at the rally. - Joshua Zamudio"
To Demand Federal Relief & Moral Budget
Car Caravans, Prayer Vigils, Rallies Led by Young People, Essential Workers,
Faith Leaders in Los Angeles, Fresno, Merced
Los Angeles, CA — In the week that Congress is debating a federal relief package and California Governor released the May revise, several hundred people representing youth, essential workers, labor and faith-based organizations led car caravans, prayer vigils and rallies across the state today to mourn the 85,000 who have died from COVID-19 and to call for urgent action to care for working people. Participants urged their Congressional representatives and California leaders to pass a federal relief plan and state budget that cares for the vulnerable and asks wealthy corporations to pitch in their fair share so California emerges from this crisis stronger, healthier and more united.
COVID-19 has shown how we must all pull together and pitch in to care for one another in times of crisis — no matter where we live or what we look like. From nurses to farmworkers — working people of California are doing our part to care for one another and to help us all get through this crisis.
In these times of monumental crisis, people rely on our government to be there for us and prioritize our collective health and wellbeing.
“Black and brown people make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths. We and our parents are required to work outside of the home and sustain our state while being sorely underprepared and unequipped to handle the realities of this virus, said Tyler Okeke, a Power California youth leader from South Los Angeles. “My mom leaves the house every morning to go to a public hospital in East L.A. where she works in fear. She must juggle the responsibilities of providing quality care and protecting those she loves from an unforgiving virus. Students like myself have either had to work or take up greater responsibilities at home in homeschooling our siblings and providing structure.”
In Los Angeles, hundreds of cars circled the Ronald Reagan State Building while clergy, working people, and youth held signs and wore “Care For Us” masks while practicing safe physical distancing. They urged their representatives and state leaders to not repeat the mistakes of the past by making the same decisions that left us vulnerable and unprepared for this crisis. They demanded their leaders have courage to care for working people like they have cared for all of us and choose to invest in health, jobs and education now when we need these things the most.
Clery members of different faiths argued that it was unconscionable for leaders to consider budget cuts when Californians are already sacrificing so much and when people are still getting sick and dying, particularly in our elderly, disabled and many communities of color. Budget cuts will destroy any safety net Californians have left, risk more lives and leave our state vulnerable and unprepared for the next crisis — just as past bad short-sighted decisions left us for this one, organizers argued.
"We need a budget that's going to speak to the people. We need a budget that's going to speak to those that are formerly incarcerated. We need a budget that's going to speak to our black and brown youth failing in our public schools. We need a budget that's going to lift up our communities," said Pastor Byron Smith of Lifting the Veil Ministry and a member of Community Coalition. "We need a budget that's going to make a difference so we can live post COVID-19. We want to make sure our elected officials are aware of their decisions on a budget that needs to lift our people and lift the City of LA."
Safe socially-distanced rallies were also held at Fresno City Hall and Merced County Building featuring young essential workers who lifted up concerns from insecurity about their educational future and lack of healthcare to low wages and unemployment. They represented the current and future essential workers and leaders that should have a voice in building a healthier California.
“Young people are essential workers taking care of California, but who’s taking care of us? Today we the youth and essential workers are calling on our leaders to pass federal relief and a moral budget,” said Elicé Arellano, a youth leader of Fresno Barrios Unidos and young parent. “When are government leaders going to care for us — not wealthy corporate executives and investors who have already received billions in tax cuts and bailouts and who are robbing much needed resources from our schools? Our leaders need to have the courage to ensure corporations pay their fair share.”