Hundreds march against hate in Jackson Heights

Immigrant and ethnic groups in Queens rallied in Jackson Heights on Friday to protest proposed policies by the Trump administration.
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

Organizations and immigrant groups came together for a march though Queens to declare a hate-free zone last week.

Beginning at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights and ending in Corona, nearly 1,000 people were involved in the demonstration against the policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump as well as his controversial cabinet picks.

Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, Latino, South Asian, Asian, and black organizations were present at the opening news conference led by Ana liza Caballes, deputy director for Desis Rising Up and Moving, a group dedicated to helping low-wage immigrants through social and policy change. City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) delivered remarks expressing solidarity with the protesters.

“I feel that we here, the people who came to this rally tonight, have something to show the rest of America, which is that we can all live together in peace and harmony,” Dromm said last Friday. “We all will stand united in this battle. And I must say, that as the Council member in this district, I will do everything in my power to resist the Islamophobic, the homophobic, the misogynistic policies and agenda of the Trump administration.”

Trump has expressed his desire to exclude Muslims and Hispanic people through heavy immigration vetting, while his Mike Pence signed into effect the Religious Freedom Act designed to allow business owners to bar LGBTQ people on religious grounds while governor of Indiana. During the campaign, audio surfaced of Trump admitting to using his celebrity status to take grope women with women without consent. Dromm added that he and other members of the City Council were meeting to discuss ways to mobilize against policies which President-elect Trump may be looking to enact.

Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization which opposes bigotry in all forms, is campaigning against Steve Bannon being tapped as chief White House strategist for the Trump administration for his Islamophobic views and to confront what they view as not only a fascist regime, but a crisis situation for Jews and Muslims. Bannon is a founding member of Breitbart News, a far-right news website.

“We think it’s our responsibility to stand and support Muslims, people of color, people who are vulnerable,” said Rosalind Petchesky, a former political science professor at Hunter College and Jewish Voice for Peace leader. “We think the threat of anti-Semitism is being used to deflect from the rampant Islamophobia. At the same time, anti-Semitism is real… Breitbart, we know, is anti-Semitic.”

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from the Justice Committee, a Latino organization dedicating to stopping police violence and systemic racism, was at the rally to push for solidarity between the different groups regardless of who is in office at all levels of government.

Chelo Silva, a transgender man from Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, reminded the crowd of the important impact policies toward undocumented immigrants has had under the Obama administration.

“Hundreds of people are deported every day,” Silva said. “They do not get the right to defend themselves, the right to get help, the right to look for options so that they can fight from the outside but being inside the country. We should not remain with our arms crossed. We must seek help, trust in community organizations.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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