May 2 2006, 10:57 AM
Ppro-immigrant rallies yesterday brought a whopping 75,000 people to the streets of downtown Denver. Check out this photo from the Rocky Mountain News, and this one. Former Mayor Federico Pena spoke at the Capitol and looking out at the crowds, called it "an ocean of beauty." How was turnout in the rest of the state? The crowd in Glenwood Springs was only 400. In Aspen, the day was described as "uneventful" while 4,000 turned out in Colorado Springs. In Avon and Edwards1,500 to 2,000 turned out by the afternoon, students were absent from class and store customers were fewer. But comare these numbers to the number of those who turned out to protest the pro-immigrant rallies. In Denver, only 50 people came out. As for citizen reaction, here's what Eileen Nast of Aurora had to say:
Eileen Mast, 58, of Aurora said she has spent the last year studying the immigration issue and is convinced companies are exploiting illegal immigrants by paying them low wages and not giving them benefits. She said the way to solve that is to give illegal immigrants a chance to earn U.S. citizenship. â€˜â€˜Yes, we do need borders, but people are all equal,'' Mast said.The New York Times reports on another Denver resident:
Dave Standifer, a broker for Charles Schwab & Co. in Denver, said he had come to march and express his support for the view that immigrants are crucial to the nation's economic life. He worries about retiring baby boomers and Social Security -- that without younger immigrants paying taxes, the economy won't function. "Anyone who wants to come in and work who is not considered a threat should be a allowed a green card," said Mr. Standifer, who is 48. But he said there was also an issue of social justice that brought him. "We have a significant portion of the population that is being disenfranchised and that makes them vulnerable," he said.The Times also carried this photo of a lone protester amongst wary police. Across the nation, more than 1 million workers stayed out from work and took to the streets.
In all, police departments in more than two dozen U.S. cities contacted by The Associated Press gave crowd estimates that totaled about 1.1 million marchers. The mood was jubilant. Marchers standing shoulder-to-shoulder filmed themselves on home video and families sang and chanted and danced in the streets wearing American flags as capes and bandanas. In most cities, those who rallied wore white to signify peace and solidarity.Interestingly, the Rocky Mountain News gives statistics for other public gatherings in Denver. The only ones larger than yesterday's are sporting events and one when the Pope came to Denver. In other words, yesterday was the largest political gathering ever held in Denver. It would have been nice if the News had said so. Did yesterday's rallies make a difference? Perhaps not to Congress, but I can't help but believe it made an impact on the many millions who saw the marches in action or watched on television.