Monday, May 01, 2006

Fuel to the Fire -- Illegal Aliens -- Are We Intimidated Yet??

This morning, Denver's Immigration Rights Day (is that what they called it? Or, was it "A Day Without Immigrants??") began at 9 A.M. in Viking Park in Northwest Denver, just blocks from my and David's 1893 Victorian. Suffice it to say, for now, that David and I have lived in this house, in this neighborhood for about twenty years.

I had made the decision two days before to attend the immigration event; to walk the route of the event and, of course, to capture the event in pictures.

My parents were married in Northwest Denver at Saint Dominic Church which is across the street from Viking Park. The fist image I captured this morning was that of the Padre (a Domican priest) watching the beginning of the gathering across the street with one of the young participants--an altar boy, perhaps--by his side.

The park is called Viking Park because it is directly across the street from North High School (thus, the North High "Vikings") which, today, is primarily Hispanic. And, it is the high school that my mother graduated from in, I believe, 1923. It is, I believe, an architecturally beautiful school that deserves the money being dedicated to (results of a ballot issue that raised our property taxes) it's maintenance.

I should also tell you that my mother--Denver born--lived only blocks from North High School as she grew up, the child of second generation immigrants: Her father Irish, her mother Italian.

And, I am obliged to tell you that my parents lived across the street from Viking Park during the first years of their marriage.

The reason I advised that David and I have lived in our wonderful neighborhood for twenty years (and let's get this out of the way at the outset) is that among the sixty or seventy or eighty thousand participants in today's event in Denver, the only physically threatening episode I encountered was a young Hispanic man dressed in a t-shirt covered with the Mexican flag and, as I was walking down the street (I am, by the way, an old white-haired, white-skinned, white guy) the young man said, "Hey, get outa the hood you peckerwood." He paused a moment to see what my reaction would be. I simply stared at him as if he were, at least, stupid and, at most, "challenged." He then saw another white guy and walked over to him and said the same thing: "Hey, get outa the hood you peckerwood."

This was a very well organized event. There were red-shirted parade monitors everywhere who advised folks to get out of the street and move here or move there. Also, today's uniform was white; a display of hope, so said the parade honchos several days ago. And, American flags were abundant.

Even one with Che peeking out from behind it.

There was also an abundance of Mexican flags and t-shirts today which, of course, is nothing new. And, as I read the reports from around the country, the placards carried by the folks were pretty much the same from LA to Houston, from Chicago to New Jersey to Denver: "Today we March, Tomorrow we Vote;" "I Am Not A Criminal; "We are America; "Si se puede! (Yes, it can be done.)"

Once again, these are highly controlled, ingeniously orchestrated events.

I walked south on Speer Boulevard from Viking Park. The demonstration route was to follow Speer Boulevard into downtown Denver, eventually terminating at Civic Center Park and the State of Colorado Capitol, and I wanted to get a good vantage point for some descriptive pics. (That's the downtown Denver skyline behind the green arcs of the Speer Boulevard bridge over the South Platte River."

The event kicked off precisely at 10:30 P.M. and, from my vantage point near the Speer Boulevard bridge, the front line of the demonstration, march, parade, whatever, was quite impressive, quite colorful.

You'll note the presence of many red-shirted functionaries who kept the event moving and under control. And, yes, I saw none of the participants become angry or violent or aggressive (to non-participants) other than my peckerwood friend who, at the beginning the event--as I noted--made something of a fool of himself.

Dare I point out that the tallest flag in the entire demonstration was that of Mexico. I'm not sure what significance that has. (No, I am sure what significance that has. Sorry.)

I walked with the folks into downtown Denver. Now, most big city downtown environs are canyons of steel and stone, tall buildings that provide great acoustics. And, this particular point in the parade/march/demonstration was one of the best spots to hoot and holler and whistle...which most of the trudging folks quickly figured out. It was quite impressive.

I did not follow the folks all the way to Civic Center Park and the State Capitol where, of course, the rhetoric was spewed and the comfort of all those compadres was felt. I've heard it all before. And, frankly, I'm growing quite tired of their polemic; a polemic that does not include the word "illegal."

I walked back home (about three miles) with my iPod shuffle cranked. I wondered, as I reentered my Northwest Denver neighborhood, if I could have kicked the peckerwood kid's ass. As much as I run and walk, yeah, I probably could have. Better yet, could I have engaged the kid in a conversation about me and my partner who've lived in the "hood" for twenty years and my mother who grew up in the "hood" and my mother and father who lived in the "hood" and... Ah, shit... Let me give myself a break here. The peckerwood kid wouldn't have understood the significance of any of that. Afterall, all of us white folks stole this land from him personally in 1848. We're the immigrants. Right?

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