by Howard Applegate
Nearly forty protestors showed up at the Germaine Town Square on May 1st to celebrate International Labor Day, and march to the Malsanto Agricultural Research Station in south Wilbur County for a protest rally.
The event in downtown Germaine included speeches by City Council member Willie Walkingstick, and labor leaders from the Willamette Valley. Most of the crowd seemed to be hispanic, and many were workers from McCoy Industries greenhouse division.
According to Harlan McCoy, owner of McCoy Industries, he gave the workers the day off. “They were going to take it anyway…â€ said McCoy, â€œI couldnâ€™t see any reason to stand in their way.”
Willie Walkingstick, a leader of many past rallies prior to his election to City Council, spoke about labor history in Wilbur County, bringing up the spectre of Ansel Johanssen, a member of the I.W.W. lynched by a mob in 1913.
â€œAnsel Johanssen,â€ said Walkingstick, â€œwas an immigrant worker from another era. He was an honest, hard working man. His descendants are respected members of this community. These workers here…you…you have even more right to be in this land. You are the indigenous people of this continent. You are my cousins. I say, welcome cousins.â€
The march, nearly seven miles, went without incident. Protestors carried signs which said, “No GMOs,” “Malsanto Poisons the Food Chain,” and “Malsanto Exploits Workers,” among other messages.
A small contingent took the rising gasoline prices as an opportunity to raise the issue of oil dependence. “Oil Economy = Death Economy” said their banner.
Rachel Valazques, a spokesperson for the group, claims that â€œthe world is on the verge of triple collapse. Energy, ecology, and the economy â€“they are all about to burst,â€ she said. â€œThe only way out of this is to convert to alternative energy and to stop this consumer orgyâ€ by controlling corporations who profit by it.
â€œDonâ€™t cry about gas prices,â€ she continued, referring to the latest U.S. oil shock, “Quit driving your gas guzzlers, and do something to change things.”
Not everyone interviewed on the street, though, looked kindly at the rally and its multiple messages.
“These protestors are a disgrace,” said Geena Rawlins, “…theyâ€™ve swallowed all of the liberal lies about doom and destruction. Global warming, peak oil. Crap. As for the Mexicans, go back where you belong. Mexico. Not here in the U.S.A. And if Walkingstick loves â€˜em so much, he should be the first to go.”
Others, like Jasper Bradford, were more circumspect. “I don’t agree with everything that’s being said here,” he opined, “but it sure makes you think. We are a nation of immigrants, and these folks are important to our life blood. We need to listen to what they have to say.”
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April 26, 2017
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