DAY 5: Video report, media round-up from massive grand finale of March to Build a New World!

Democracy Now: “We’ve come here to demand that Publix and Kroger — which is directly connected to the situation of modern slavery in Pahokee; they bought watermelons from there — and Wendy’s, for them to join the Fair Food Program and put an end to the extreme labor abuses in this country,” Gerardo Reyes Chavez

Fox News 29: “U.S. Rep Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, who joined in the march, said: ‘We have to eat to stay alive and we should make sure these workers are paid fairly and in just conditions. This is about encouraging all our local merchants to participate in the Fair Food Program and that’s really going to ensure safer conditions. And we can eat with a smile on our face.'”

Day 5 of the March to Build a New World was SO big that it required two updates to capture all the action, images, and media coverage!  And even after today’s second update, there will still be more to come from the momentous march for farmworker freedom.  

You can find Part 1 of the Day 5 update here.

In today’s update, we bring you the big video wrap-up from Day 5, and the first installment of the Day 5 media round-up, as there are stories from the march’s final day that are still pending publication.

For now, we will let the Day 5 video and the media reports speak for themselves.  But be sure to check back again in the days ahead for a final reflection on the march, a look from a slight remove in time and space at all its highlights, its challenges and contradictions, and at the unconscionable refusal of companies like Wendy’s, Kroger and Publix to recognize the shameful surge in exploitation and abuse in the fields today — abuse crystalized in the slavery prosecution that provided the starting point for the march — and their role, and responsibility, in putting an end to the abuse.  

What does it say, for example, about the state of social responsibility and respect for human rights in corporate supply chains today that a company the size of Kroger can refuse to even comment when the US Department of Labor directly and publicly identifies Kroger as one of the companies that purchased the watermelons picked by workers held against their world and forced to work in the case of US v. Moreno?  

And worse still, what are we to make of Kroger’s commitment to human rights when the company stubbornly maintains that silence even as hundreds of workers and consumers launch a 5-day march — from the very place where those workers were held against their will, and where two of those workers were obliged to hide in the trunk of a car to escape the labor camp and call the CIW to report the abuse — to demand that Kroger acknowledge the brutal reality of modern-day slavery in the fields today and join the Fair Food Program to help confront it?  

And, finally, as if one case of forced labor weren’t enough to move the company to comment — much less join the program recognized by law enforcement agencies across the US government today as the gold standard for fighting modern-day slavery — what are consumers to think about Kroger when they realize that the Pahokee case was not the first instance in which Kroger was connected to a law enforcement action against forced labor, but the second since December 2021?

We will reflect on these questions, and more, in our final post on the March to Build a New World in the days ahead, but for now, enjoy the video and initial media round-up from the huge final day of the march.  And, of course, all of us here in Immokalee send our most heartfelt thanks to all the countless people across the state and around the country who helped make the unforgettable march possible, whether it was by joining us in the street, donating resources that fueled us along the way, or sending much-loved messages of solidarity that gave the marchers energy and enthusiasm to continue their 50-mile trek!

Day 5 Video:

Day 5 Photo Gallery:

Day 5 Media Round-up: