As many as 1000 activists pushing a broad range of causes gathered downtown Tuesday evening (November 29), the fourth anniversary of the "Fight for 15" movement backed by fast-food workers and labor unions to raise the minimum wage.
Dubbed "Justice Can't Wait," the rally was one of several planned nationwide and followed a day of protests around San Diego, including earlier actions in Barrio Logan and at San Diego International Airport.
At the die-in on Front Street
Factions advocating for higher wages and improved working conditions were joined by those representing the Black Lives Matter movement demanding an investigation of the killing of Alfred Olango by El Cajon police and support for Robert Branch, who faces charges after being allegedly assaulted by an off-duty deputy. Also in the mix were immigrant-rights groups seeking to block promised mass deportations under the Trump administration, LGBTQ activists, groups seeking a rent-control measure for San Diego, and environmentalists protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The crowd first gathered in front of federal office towers on Front Street, where a "die-in" was staged to represent the 234 unarmed people of color killed by American police so far in 2016. From there, the group marched to the intersection of Fifth and Market in the Gaslamp Quarter, shutting down traffic on the street for several minutes while protesting conditions faced by undocumented immigrants.
Continuing through the streets while chanting slogans including "No justice, no peace, no racist police" and "You can't drink oil, keep it in the soil," the group continued past offices of the San Diego Housing Commission and the City College trolley station, where they stopped again for more speakers to declare the threat to drinking water posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Eventually the group halted in front of the McDonald's on Park Boulevard across from the college, where the rally came back to the Fight for 15 issue. While California already has plans to implement a $15 minimum wage, it will take effect over several years in incremental steps, which workers say isn't soon enough.
By 7:30, two and a half hours after the rally began, protesters began to slowly disperse. Despite a heavy police presence, the crowd remained largely peaceful and by the close of the rally no arrests had been reported.