Tips for covering Cinco de Mayo

The annual Cinco de Mayo celebration falls on a Saturday this year, making it possible that more people will be participating in non-organized activities than have in recent years, particularly cruising along Federal Blvd.

Reconfigured medians along Federal, street closures, restricted exits from I-25, and other law enforcement crackdowns, like curfews, may explain the decreased Cinco-de-Mayo activities in the last few years. So the day of the week on which May 5 falls may not matter.

Efforts at collaborative peace keeping and ‘witnessing’ efforts organized by Nita Gonzalez, President of Escuela Tlaltelolco, may have decreased skirmishes and resultant visibility of cruising as well. Gonzales promoted safe cruising and respectful law enforcement.

Still, increased traffic problems and revelry, if they emerge this year, will likely attract media coverage, and so I thought I’d offer a few pro-active suggestions on how to encourage fairness in reporting on an event with a history of inflammatory coverage and divisive reactions within our community.

  • Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, which is actually Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo, which marks an historic victory by the Mexican Army at Puebla, Mexico, in 1862, is a celebration of Latin culture and freedom generally. The weaker and smaller Mexican farmers defeated the French.
  • The organized Cinco de Mayo activities will take place at Civic Center Park May 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  This is one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of people in the past. It’s a fundraising event organized by NEWSED Community Development Corporation and Santa Fe Drive Redevelopment Corporation. Booth space is sold to vendors and exhibitors of many types. Music, dancing, food, and more will be offered.
  • The cruising that typically occurs on Cinco de Mayo weekend is not an organized activity. It occurs spontaneously, often concentrating along Federal. In the past, police have restricted cruising to specific parts of Federal and curfews have been enforced.
  • Cruising is legal, and it’s a popular and peaceful activity among Mexican-Americans. Maintaining lowriders and converted vehicles is a hobby no different from other hobbies people take up.
  • The intention of cruisers is obviously not to tie up traffic or prevent people from driving across Federal Blvd. (It could be helpful to have some pre-emptive coverage of traffic detours and closures and suggestions for avoiding the traffic tie-ups, if any.)
  • Flag waving has been a highly visible part of Cindo-de-Mayo activities in the past. It’s misleading to attribute the flag-waving to Mexican nationals. It’s more a symbol of cultural and ethnic identity and origin,  and relatively unrelated to expressions of geo-politics or sovereignty or the like.

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