More than a thousand protesters gathered in Long Island City Saturday to rally behind City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) as he led a march to Trump Tower via the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian walk to protest the president-elect’s expected policies on immigration and civil liberties.
Van Bramer continued with the march despite receiving a homophobic death threat two days beforehand.
Donald Trump, whose election stunned many Queens residents, campaigned on a platform of deporting illegal immigrants, building a wall to keep out Mexicans and creating a Muslim registry. Whether he follows through on these threats is not clear, but his choice of Mike Pence for vice president and early appointments of advisers have raised widespread concerns because of their conservative views on race, women’s rights, the gay community and diversity.
Fellow elected officials at the event included City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush).
“I want constituents to never stop fighting and never believe that they are powerless,” Van Bramer said. “We need to fight the worst elements of this administration.” He called his march #QueensResponds to send the message that Trump may be from Queens but his divisive rhetoric doesn’t represent the borough’s values anymore.
Christopher Costa, 30, a member of the LGBTQ community agreed.
“It’s very upsetting to know that he will be our president,” said Costa. “Instead of hating, I think we should take that anger...that despair and use it to take action.”
During the rally on Dutch Kills Green in Queensboro Plaza, Van Bramer addressed the crowd, which included many children.
“What are Queens values?” he asked his husband Dan Hendrick by his side. “We believe in a woman’s right to choose and reject hatred against immigrants and the undocumented...we love and support our LGBT family, and support the right to marry the person you love.”
Mark-Viverito wasn’t quiet about her concerns.
Trump’s “campaign, platform, administration is hostile to the diversity that exists and we value that in this city,” she said.
“A constituent asked, ‘Madame Speaker, are they going to segregate us?” said Mark-Viverito. “I found out he was talking about the Muslim registry.”
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the closing of the last Japanese internment camp , which was formed by using a registry to gather up Japanese Americans from across the United States and forcibly incarcerating them during World War II.
“Let’s give a round of applause to someone that’s personally been threatened and reject scapegoating of our Muslim brothers, reject anti-Semitism,” Stringer said.
Donna Hepburn flew in from California to protest with her daughter, Jessica Feinman, 31, from Astoria, who held up a sign that said “Jews standing up for Muslims.”
“We are both protesters and we are both activists that don’t accept this racist cabinet...or the destruction of DACA,” said Feinman, referring to the program authorized by President Obama which allows young undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents to work and attend college.
As demonstrators recited “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump, go away” while marching to Trump Tower, motorcyclists revved their engines, bicyclists fist-pumped the air and drivers honked in support of their protest.
Kara Griffith, 42, an African-American woman from Woodside, could not believe that Trump won the presidency.
“I’m disappointed that he’s been elected,” said Griffith. “I expected more from the American public. As a human being, I care about other human beings, but I don’t feel like the way to get ahead is by trampling on other people’s rights.”
Calvin Hunt, 55, a Trump supporter who is also African-American, spoke up in defense of the president-elect.
“We should give him a chance,” Hunt said.
When asked about what he expected from a Trump presidency, Hunt repeated “jobs, jobs, jobs!”
“Blacks are tired of selling loose cigarettes...and killing each other for loose change,” Hunt said. “He might open up jobs in four years.”
To Laura Jacobson from Jamaica, this helped her come to a realization about a post-racial America.
“It’s a wake-up call that things that we believed to be true aren’t true,” said Jacobson. “Obama’s victories made us not exactly complacent, but believe certain things about the direction the country was moving in that turned out not to be true.”
Melissa Brotie, 27, came to the march from Astoria to stand up for those who could be affected the most by a Trump presidency.
“I feel scared as a young woman, as a Jewish woman,” Brotie said. “I also understand that I have privilege and that I am relatively safe to walk down the street and I think that our goal is to protect those that aren’t. I see a lot of hate rhetoric...and if we look to history, this does not go anywhere good.”
©2016 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.