How to Get a Half Million People into the Streets How radio DJs and MySpace.com organized massive L.A. immigrant protests.
NPR logo How to Get a Half Million People into the Streets

How to Get a Half Million People into the Streets

Demonstrators in Los Angeles protest legislation that would crack down on illegal immigrants, March 25, 2006. Reuters hide caption

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Massive protests used to take months of planning and teams of organizers armed with fliers. Welcome to the future. Pro-immigrant rallies yesterday and over the weekend in Los Angeles were organized on the fly with a little help from old and new technology.

The Los Angeles Times has a great story about how Spanish-language DJs mobilized 500,000 people to flood the streets of L.A. on Saturday.

One DJ known as "el Piolin" (Tweety Bird) organized a summit of rival DJs including "El Mandril" (The Baboon) and "El Cucuy" (The Boogeyman). The protest was expected to draw fewer than 20,000 people. But 500,000 demonstrators showed up, making it one of the largest rallies in Los Angeles' history.

"I told God that if he gave me an opportunity as a radio announcer, I was going to help my people," said Sotelo, a DJ who himself illegally crossed the border in the trunk of a car in 1986. He gained legal status a decade later.

Yesterday, 40,000 kids in Southern California got into the act. They staged their own protest by walking out of school. The L.A. Times describes how this demonstration was set in motion by mass e-mails, instant messages, cell phone calls and postings on Myspace.com.