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Anti-Trump protests break out across US

12:34 AM January 16, 2017
WASHINGTON RALLY The Rev. Al Sharpton and National Urban League president Marc Morial lead a protest march at West Potomac Park inWashington to serve notice to US President-elect Donald Trump and Congress that the fight for immigration reform, criminal justice, voting rights, affordable health care and other issues continues. —AFP

WASHINGTON RALLY The Rev. Al Sharpton and National Urban League president Marc Morial lead a protest march at West Potomac Park inWashington to serve notice to US President-elect Donald Trump and Congress that the fight for immigration reform, criminal justice, voting rights, affordable health care and other issues continues. —AFP

WASHINGTON—Protests kicked off across America on Saturday, denouncing President-elect Donald Trump for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his pledge to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and his promise to crack down on Muslims entering the country.

“We are not going to allow Donald Trump to bury the Statue of Liberty,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, told a standing-room-only crowd at an historic African-American church in downtown Washington during one of dozens of rallies around the nation.

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In Chicago, more than 1,000 people poured into a teachers’ union hall to support immigrant rights and implore one another to fight for those rights against what they fear will be a hostile Trump administration.

Ron Taylor, pastor of a Chicago-area Disciples for Christ Church and executive director of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, told the audience there, “Regardless of what happens in the coming days we know that good will conquer evil and we want to say to each and every one of you, you are not alone.”

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‘Si se puede’

In Los Angeles, several hundred people rallied at a downtown Mexican-American cultural center and plaza.

Some carried signs saying “Here to Stay” and chanted “Si se puede,” Spanish for “Yes, we can.”

The protests mark the latest chapter in a movement that has evolved since 2006, when more than a million people took to the streets to protest a Republican-backed immigration bill that would have made it a crime to be in the country illegally.

Saturday’s events in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, California and elsewhere took place as thousands participated in a “We Shall Not Be Moved” march and rally in Washington ahead of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The line outside Metropolitan AME Church in Washington stretched nearly a city block.

People attending the rally included immigrants who lack permission to be in the country and their relatives and supporters. Also present were elected officials, clergy and representatives of labor and women’s groups.

Participants carried signs with messages including “Resist Trump’s Hate” and “Tu, Yo, Todos Somos America,” which translates to “You, me, we all are America.”

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‘This is not Trump’s land’

Dr. Bassam Osman, chair and cofounder of The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, elicited one of the loudest cheers from the crowd when he called out the president-elect by name in an opening prayer: “Lord, this land is your land, it is not Trump’s land.”

While there was plenty of cheering, there was also uneasiness and fear of what’s to come after Trump is sworn in.

Rehab Alkadi, a 31-year-old mother of a young son who came to the United States four years ago from war-torn Syria, said she didn’t believe she could be deported because “there is a war in Syria, but who knows. It’s so scary, what Trump says.”

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesperson for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said, “We put the Trump administration on notice that we’re not going to sit idly by while he destroys our community.”

President Barack Obama in 2012 launched an executive effort to protect some young immigrants from deportation, after multiple proposals failed in Congress.

The creation of the program was heralded as a good first step by advocates who hoped it would be a prelude toward overhauling immigration laws.

But that didn’t happen, and Republican-led states pushed back against Obama’s plans to expand the program.

Now the focus is on the next administration. As a candidate, Trump promised his supporters stepped-up deportations and a Mexican-funded border wall.

Holliday backs out

For her part, Broadway star Jennifer Holliday backed out as a performer at next week’s presidential inaugural following protests from her gay and black fans, further dimming the event’s already low celebrity wattage.

Holliday, best known for her Tony-winning role in Broadway’s “Dreamgirls,” said in an interview on Saturday that she hadn’t considered singing at a Thursday concert by Washington’s Lincoln Memorial would be judged a statement of support for President-elect Trump.

“It just really hit home for me,” she said. “The gay community has been a big part of my life and my career. I feel there really wouldn’t be a Jennifer Holliday or a ‘Dreamgirls’ in the 21st Century without them. I needed to at least hear them out and learn why it would be such a great disappointment for them.”

Several prominent entertainers have earlier declined to perform at Trump’s inaugural festivities.

Obama’s twin inaugurations attracted top names like Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and others, in sharp contrast to those Trump has gathered.

Women’s March

Many participants on Saturday said they would keep the pressure on Trump and said they planned to participate in next Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.

“The threat of deportation is imminent for our communities,” said Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream and one of the rally’s organizers.

“We will keep fighting. We’re not going back into the shadows,” Jimenez added. —AP

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TAGS: anti-Trump protests, Barack Obama, Bassam Osman, Chris Van Hollen, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Donal Trump, immigrant rights, Jennifer Holliday, Ron Taylor
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