May 1st Immigration Protest in Tampa by Nancy Morgan

05/01/06

Lead: About 5,000 protestors joined thousands of others across the country and gathered along Dale Mabry Highway today to send a message to America that their work is valuable. Some feared losing their jobs if they joined the protest, but that didn’t stop them. They lined the street from Columbus Ave. North to Raymond James Stadium as supporters drove by honking horns and cheering. Nancy Morgan reports.

Things did not start out well for organizers of the protest.

Blanca Gonzalez of Immigrants United for Freedom expressed her frustration

With the way that the protestors were being treated by the Sports Authority.

Sound: Blanca Gonzalez

It didn’t take long, however, for the Tampa Police Department to asses the situation and try to help.

Sound: Cop

Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department spokesperson was sympathetic to the protestors.

Sound: McElroy

Soon the stream of protesters were lining up along Dale Mabry Highway. The sounds of their voices took over and became stronger when cars and trucks passed by and honked their horns in support.

Sound: Protestors

There was no doubt about why they were gathered here. And in spite of the fears that some would lose their jobs if they showed up at the protest, they came anyway.

Sound: Guy from Brandon

Raul Mata walked in alone. Now a citizen, he came to show his support for those who hope to achieve the American dream of becoming citizens.

Sound: Mata

Not all who were there were immigrants. Some, like Matt Bokor, Director of Community Relations for The Redlands Christian Migrant Association knows firsthand the problems immigrants face every day. He said he had to come.

Sound: Bokor

Bokor went on to describe what his organization does every day.

Sound: Bokor

Bokor also has strong feelings about the plight of the immigrants with regard to the attitudes of those who would like to punish them for being here.

Sound: Bokor

And Bokor knows about the fears that immigrants have.

Sound: Bokor

That fear is sometimes based on reality. Lawyer Edgar J. Guzman of Tampa has had experience with the problem.

Sound: Guzman

Across the street, a group of about 50 counter demonstrators had gathered. One of them, Tim Smith with the Minutemen Florida Corps see the issue as one of security.

Sound: Smith

On the other hand, Darla Nunnery from Plant City sees the issue as one of fairness for workers.

Sound: Nunnery

Gloria Zapata from West Tampa does not agree. She stood with two other women holding a huge sign, which read “Thanks Immigrants for Helping America to Grow. Hard workers, Tax Payers, Buyers.�

Sound: Zapata

I’m Nancy Morgan reporting for WMNF News.

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