Hundreds gathered Thursday in Chinatown in preparation for the annual May Day demonstrations, chanting for immigration and human rights reform.
In a loud yet peaceful scene, demonstrators banged on drums, hugged, waved placards and paraded through bumper-to-bumper traffic. One group held the American flag above their heads as they prepared to march.
The demonstrations in Chinatown and downtown Los Angeles are expected to continue through the day and police have warned that traffic will be clogged.
As demonstrators prepared to march, members of a group identified as "Revolution-Nothing less" chanted "Not one more deportation."
Stephanie Lomeli, 24, was among those who turned out for the march.
She said her parents lived as undocumented immigrants when they first arrived from Mexico, crossing the vast desert to enter the United States.
Now, she says, she sees teenagers, even children as young as 7, trying to make the same journey from countries like Guatemala and El Salvador.
"My parents tell me stories about when they crossed, but then to picture children doing the same, alone," she said. "I want to make sure their voices are heard."
Eduardo Rodriguez, 11, clutched a sign that read, "No more American citizen kids with a broken family. We need out families together now."
He was among dozens of teenagers and children who gathered for the May Day demonstration.
"Kids are lonely without their parents," the 11-year-old said, a reference to those whose parents have been deported. "Our parents came here to work and give us a better future."
He wore a hard hat and a green mesh vest to salute his his father, who he said works in construction and could not attend the rally.