As the Trump inauguration approached, there was a palpable nervousness coursing throughout Queens.
In the borough where 75 percent of the voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, many residents were worried that the newly minted Queens-born president would jettison protections
against Muslims, support efforts to deny women the right to choose and target immigrants regardless of status.
The Queens celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday kept cycling back to how the civil rights leader’s legacy could motivate opponents of Trump’s platform, which is short on details but long on tweeted threats to dismantle safeguards against inequality and economic discrimination.
At the Jamaica Performing Arts Center Monday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), now the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: “The memory of Dr. King is far more important today than it’s been in a long time.”
Several lawmakers in Queens have been holding workshops for immigrants who live in their districts to explain their rights and current laws. Trump, who grew up in Jamaica Estates as the son of an immigrant mother from Scotland, has said he wants to deport the undocumented and restrict Muslims traveling to this country, but his plans are fuzzy at best.
New York City is a sanctuary city, which means City Hall has adopted a policy that will not allow illegal immigrants to be deported. Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to safeguard the identities of undocumented residents who applied for the NYIC cards.
The Queens Museum is getting into the act. On Inauguration Day the museum will close to observe the J20 General Art Strike, organized by cultural sites around the city, to urge consumers to shut down the economy and send a message to Trump. The art world is fearful the culture wars may resume and federal arts funding will be cut.
As Trump takes the oath of office, the museum is hosting a session to produce signs, posters, banners and buttons for future marches and actions across the five boroughs.
On Saturday the Women for the Center of New York, based in Kew Gardens, is one of the sponsors of the Women’s March on NYC, which is expected to draw 37,000 supporters. Some will wear the suffragettes’ burgundy sashes on the trek to Trump Tower.
Ann Jawin, founder of the center, said simply: “You have to keep educating and fighting.”
It looks like the Sixties may be coming back again with Queens residents preparing to do battle to defend their democratic rights if challenged.
©2017 Community News Group
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