Behind rows of thin vertical windows of the imposing Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, inmates awaiting trial are housed. Many are immigrants waiting for possible deportation and criminal charges for entering the country without proper documents. They tap loudly on the slim windows as the crowd gathered below for “Chant Down the Walls-Beyond The Los Angeles Women’s March” looks up and waves.
The sounds of the all-female band Mariachi La Victoria ring out through the closed street below the detention center in Downtown Los Angeles. The building sits across the 101 freeway from Union Station and down the street from MOCA.
People have gathered here on January 21st, the same day as the Los Angeles Women’s March either choosing this as an alternative to the larger march or as an extension of it. The band sings a mariachi rendition of Chicanx feminist punk icon Alice Bag’s song “White Justice:”
“You say justice
But I know you’re lying
I know you’re lying
Doesn’t work for me
Is a travesty
The words are particularly poignant on this day when an estimated 750,000 people took to the streets of Los Angeles to march against Trump’s hateful and misogynistic rhetoric.
Chant Down the Walls-Beyond the Los Angeles Women’s March is meant to create a more inclusive and intersectional space for protest, taking into account the specific oppressions and struggles faced by women of color, transgender people, and immigrants, among others.
Organized by transnational and anti-imperialist feminist organization, Af3irm, as well as The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the event included spoken word poetry, speeches from women representatives of local grassroots organizations such as Dr. Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter, and music from local Latinx bands like Los Jornaleros del Norte, who formed in order to advocate for immigrant rights through music.
It was a powerful and inclusive event that used artistic expression as a vehicle for speaking out and fighting back in the face of oppression.