LA report: Mothers March for a better life for all
l.a. activist - a journal of Los Angeles activism
March 13, 2011
By Dan Bluemel
Demonstrators march along Wilshire Boulevard toward MacArthur in Mothers March, an action that demands a better life for children and families. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)
A demonstration was held yesterday in support of the world’s primary caregiver: mothers. Various groups rallied in MacArthur Park demanding an epic shift in priorities by calling for an end to budget cuts, poverty, environmental degradation, discrimination and war.
Starting in front of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Koreatown, demonstrators marched along Wilshire Boulevard into Westlake. Although the marchers were made up of a broad coalition of organizations, with an equally broad scope of issues, the event focused heavily on war and the treatment of children within the DCFS.
“We are angered by the DCFS practice of kidnapping children and detaining them with strangers while family is there willing, ready and able to give love and care,” said Janaci Mitchell, a member of DCFS Give Us Back Our Children, an organization that participated in the march.
According to a statement from DCFS Give Us Back Our Children, Los Angeles has the second highest rate of removing children from their parents in the U.S. next to Philadelphia. The group says black children are more likely to be taken from their homes than non-blacks and tend to stay in foster care longer or never return home at all.
Lina Duval, a member of DCFS Give Us Back Our Children, had her 15-month-old son taken away from her in 2009 for alleged neglect. Her son suffers from a neurological disorder that affects his appetite, she explained. The DCFS saw this as willful starvation, said Duval, despite her hiring two neurologists to testify on her behalf in court. Now she is only allowed to see her son four hours a week.
“I’m a mom who is fighting and will continue to fight, because this has to change,” she said.
Cindy Sheehan speaks to demonstrators in MacArthur Park, calling for an end to U.S. wars that she says burden America’s ability to care for its citizens. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)
According to Duval, DCFS was partly prompted to take her child because of her interest in holistic medicine. This issue was echoed by Atlachinolli Tezcacoatl, who nearly had his six-year-old daughter taken from him for his belief in medical alternatives.
Tezcacoatl said his daughter’s dentist called DCFS after he refused the dentist’s recommendation of antibiotics for an infection in his daughter’s mouth. He said he wanted a second opinion and asked about holistic approaches to treatment. The second dentist’s opinion said there was no infection and Tezcacoatl’s daughter has been fine.
According to Tezcacoatl, the DCFS then threatened to take away his two-year-old son for his “failure to protect a sibling.” After his experience with the department, he got involved with DCFS Give Us Back Our Children.
“That’s why I became involved,” he said. “I was looking for a group that was protecting families.”
The event was held in honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which is officially acknowledged on March 8. Food was served at the rally in MacArthur Park. After speeches, several musical acts performed for the crowd.
While holding a placard and child, a seemingly tireless woman marches toward MacArthur Park. (Dan Bluemel / LA Activist)
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan also participated in the march while in southern California for a speaking engagement in Redlands today. In her speech at the rally, Sheehan said U.S. foreign policy has a negative impact upon domestic needs, such as education and health care.
“Who are the people who suffer the most from these wars and from poverty? It’s the women and the children,” she said. “The wealth of this country does not belong in the hands of one percent, it belongs in the hands of 100 percent.”
Sheehan was also joined by other speakers from Military Families Speak Out. Their speeches touched upon sexual abuse in the military and soldiers suffering from PTSD.
“The war doesn’t end when our children come home,” said San Gabriel chapter leader Rossana Cambron. “They need care, they need help, just like any of our other children who have been through any kind of trauma.”
“We need to push to end these wars and bring our soldiers home. So we can all lead a decent life,” she added.
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