American flags were front and center, and the police presence was minimal, as marchers crossed downtown Los Angeles Saturday to urge immigration reform.
More than 100,000 people were expected to march from four directions towards Los Angeles City Hall, as the new Arizona law directing local police to enforce federal immigration police powers was expected to swell the number of people attending the annual May Day immigration reform march.
Hundreds of people had clustered at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway two hours before the marches were scheduled to begin, and vendors did a brisk business in U.S. flags and patriotic T-shirts. A reporter in the middle of the crowd said throngs were visible as far as she could see in all four directions.
"I've been here (in the U.S.) since I was three," said Jose Luis, a Los Angeles teenager standing on a corner with his friend, both wearing American flags like superhero capes. Luis said in years past his friend had marched in similar rallies waving a Mexican flag, but "I realize it's about supporting this country.
"We still have love for (Mexico), but we're in L.A. now," said Luis.
Vendors reported that sales of flags and hats with the stars and stripes dominated the few Mexican flags also for sale. One seller, Kate Munoz, said Spanish-language newscasts have carried interviews stressing that the protest march should look like a sea of red, white and blue.
"We heard on TV that you have to wear a white shirt and carry American flags," said Munoz.
As hundreds assembled on a street closed to autos a mile south of City Hall, a stakebed truck was festooned with a sign directed at Washington. In Spanish, it said "Obama hear us. We will die in the struggle."
It also displayed a quote from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, proclaiming it better to die than to die kneeling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was labeled "the next Hitler" and "the new face of racism" on a sign carried by Long Beach City College student Cindy Lugo. "I think what (Brewer is) doing in Arizona is similar to what Hitler did in Germany," she said.
Other protests were more humorous, including a pair of plastic space creatures in a baby stroller wearing a sign asking that their alien status be made legal.