Hundreds of messages from the children of immigrants dangling from a church’s tree in Jackson Heights tells of the fear they have of a Trump presidency. “The American Dream is big enough for everyone,” is written on one piece of cloth. “Peace for all women, LGBT, immigrants and men,” is scrawled on another.
“The kids drew pictures and expressed their feelings in drawings during ‘Diversity Trumps Hate’ rallies we held at Diversity Plaza Friday and again on Saturday,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “I think people are frightened about what a Trump administration will mean to them and I’m letting them know we will stand up and fight any attempt by the Trump administration to deport them. People are terrified.”
Others written messages hanging from the “Tree of Hope” at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on 82nd Street include “We like diversity” and “Hold on to hope.” A sign on the fence explains that the tree represents “An act of creation and solidarity to counter the hate- and fear-mongering that was given a voice during the election and whose voice became more powerful on Election Day.”
In Sunnyside, hundreds of concerned citizens joined more than a dozen community organizations Wednesday to speak out against hate and the incendiary language of the Trump campaign.
“Like so many of you, I’m stunned and saddened by the result of this election. I have already heard from too many who are afraid, legitimately afraid, of what will be,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. But while I understand that there is much to be concerned about, I don’t want to focus on fear. Instead I ask all of us to dig deep at this difficult moment and feel hope and be in touch with our undying thirst for freedom. I’m not naive.
“The same nightmare scenarios run through my brain that have run through so many of yours. But I also know that we are a good and strong lot. Women, African Americans, Latinos, all immigrants -including the undocumented, my LGBT brothers and sisters, people of all faiths including Muslims, and the differently abled — have come as far as we have because we know how to fight.”
Van Bramer also organized a march across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“He may have grown up, here but he’s not from here anymore” says a flier he was handing out Wednesday morning at No. 7 subway stations.
Marchers will gather at Dutch Kills Green at Northern Boulevard and Queens Plaza North. Astoria resident Brendan Fay, the co-founder of the all-inclusive St. Pat’s for All Parade, will joining them.
“This past week I’ve received many calls from anxious and worried friends and neighbors -- LGBT, Muslim and immigrant,” Fay said. The anxieties are very real given the public statements by President-elect Trump. New Yorkers are stronger together as we rise, speak up, and stay together for civil and human rights. Our lives and our futures are in our hands.”
The gay-rights activist fears Trump could erase decades of work by overturning President Obama’s executive actions, including the one he signed in 2014 prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Women fear the reversal of Roe vs. Wade and the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
“We will never back down and we will never stop fighting to ensure that Planned Parenthood patients have access to the care they need, people who come from communities that need our continued support in this new reality – immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, people of faith, and more,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said. “Health care should not be political. Every morning, Planned Parenthood health center staff across the country wake up and open their doors, as they have this morning, to care for anyone who needs them, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, income, or country of origin. They will do so today, they will do so tomorrow, they will do so every day as they have for 100 years.”
Meanwhile, back in Jackson Heights, the sign under the “Tree of Hope” says, “No matter how dense and deep the dark, there is a glimmer of light -- that light is hope. Hope for a better world, a better tomorrow, and a better right now.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr