Immigrants Call One-Day Strike

Tuesday December 16, 2003

Some Berkeley restaurant and café goers found closed doors at their favorite spots Friday after employees took the day off to join a statewide strike in support of immigrant rights. 

The strike, called in reaction to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to repeal the law to license undocumented immigrant drivers, helped shut down businesses across the state. But unlike Oakland, where most of International Boulevard was closed, only a handful of shops were affected in Berkeley. 

Adding to the strike here was a protest led by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN. The rally, which drew over a hundred marchers, started at the downtown BART station and proceeded to UC Berkeley. 

“We’re sick and tired of racism and of Schwarzenegger,” said Tania Kappner, BAMN organizer and an Oakland school teacher. “We’re here to say that immigrants should have full rights in this state.” 

Protesters voiced fury over the governor’s decision to repeal the law, which they called a slap in the face to the immigrants they called the backbone of the state’s economy. 

“We harvest your food, we take care of your kids, we clean your houses, so we deserve the same rights as everyone else,” said several protesters. 

Shihaddi Kitani, owner of Razan’s Organic Kitchen on Kittredge, was one of the few employers who closed to show his support. 

“My employees said they wanted to strike, and I’m an immigrant myself, so I said why not,” said Kitani who was born in Jordan. “The strike is a way to show that we can still put pressure on those who are in charge.”