Demonstrators boo Latino officials for endorsing Chinese-American candidate Theresa Mah

By Ya Zhou

Shouting “sold out, sold out,” a group of protesters loudly booed and nearly prevented congressman Luis Gutierrez and other local elected officials from announcing their support of Theresa Mah, a Chinese-American candidate running for 2nd District state representative.

The endorsement of Mah took place in the Plaza Tenochtitlan in Pilsen on Monday afternoon, where Mah came with a group of supporters and 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez and 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas.

“It is really wonderful to have more diversity in terms of people who are representing us. Having someone from the Chinese community, especially a woman, is a welcome breath of fresh air to the state of Illinois.” said Gutierrez.

In the March 15 primary, Mah will face Alex Acevedo, a Mexican-American and the son of the current 2nd District state representative, Edward Acevedo.

Alex Acevedo could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

When Gutierrez arrived to the event, a crowd of 30 people approached the plaza carrying banners saying “Callate chachalaca,” (A slang expression that means “Pipe down”), “Stop dividing the Latino community” and “Latinos United.”

Gutierrez, however, proceeded with the endorsement despite continued interruption by the protesters. The crowd also included Mah’s supporters, who also carried banners .

The loudest yelling came when Gutierrez decided to move across the street after the endorsement. Gutierrez walked away while the protesters followed him.

The protesters declined to be identified and would not make comments.

Luis Gutierrez hugs Theresa Mah as protesters surround them. (Ya Zhou/MEDILL)

Gutierrez is one of the most influential Latino politicians in the state because of his longtime efforts on behalf of  immigrant rights.

The 2nd District is heavily Latino. Mah said Gutierrez’s support, and the support of other Latino officials, is important.

“It means a lot for me to get his endorsement because he is well-known and respected in the Latino community,” Mah said.

Lopez also stated his support for Mah. “Theresa is on a mission to unite all in the (2nd) district ,whether it’s Chinese-American families, Mexican-American families, Polish, Lithuanian or other type of American family,” Lopez said. “She is following a path that many people before her had followed, including her opponent’s family.”

Photo at top: From left to right, Theresa Mah, Raymond Lopez, George Cardenas and Luis Gutierrez are at PlazaTenochtitlan Monday afternoon for an endorsement of Mah. (Ya Zhou/MEDILL)