Voces de la Frontera held their annual May Day March this past Sunday, but something considerable was missing, . . . their attendance. Last May Day, Voces boasted of "mobilizing 100,000 to rally against an Arizona copycat bill" and Walker's Collective Bargaining reforms. This year, crowd estimates by MPD's 2nd District indicate that only 5,000 people had participated in the festivities. That's a 95% decrease from the previous year. Or to put it another way, 95,000 people decided that this year's May Day wasn't worth their time.
When questioned about the low turnout, Christine Neumann-Ortiz said it was still a strong showing and that it "shows a consciousness and sends a message on the issues we're fighting for." Some would argue that a 95% drop in attendance is also a message.
Last year, Arizona's SB1070 stunned the Hispanic community and spurred sharp criticisms as high as the Oval Office. Granted, the tension last year over Arizona reached alarming heights, but the battle is still far from over. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide the case as early as this June. Whether the Hispanic community has lost interest in SB1070 has yet to be seen, but a 95% drop in attendance can't be dismissed by a mere shoulder shrug.
No doubt, Voces is active in the fight for immigrant rights, but they are also a hyper-partisan group that dreams of the day they can permanently conjoin the Hispanic community with the Democrat Party. Last year, Voces injected themselves into a nationally publicized battle between Governor Scott Walker and labor unions. It can hardly be said that Voces did this on behalf of Latinos when only 8% of Latinos are members of a union.
Voces also ramped up its litigation efforts last year filing two high profile lawsuits against the state. They teamed up with the NAACP to stop Wisconsin's new Voter ID law from going into effect. Again, recent polling shows that the Hispanic community supports Voter ID by wide margins, so obstructing the law through litigation can hardly be said as a favor to Latino voters.
Another possible reason for the substantial plunge in attendance is that Voces de la Frontera may have fudged their numbers. To get 50,000 people to march for any cause let alone immigration is a congratulatory feat. To get 100,000 to march at the lakefront for immigration reform is frankly astonishing.
To put it into a different light, the combined attendance at Mexican Fiesta for an entire weekend is about 75,000 people. So, Voces' headcount last year for their one-day march tops the three-day attendance of the country's largest Mexican festival. This is miraculous indeed.
The simplest explanation for the sharp decline in the consecutive May Day Marches is that Voces had inflated last year's numbers. Falsified reports and embellished press releases are no way to gain the trust of a community.