“Love, not hate, makes America great!”
That was the rallying cry of over 100 people from across Queens who joined together at MacDonald Park in Forest Hills on Sunday to deliver a powerful message to those in power during the newly formed Queens Coalition for Solidarity’s Queens Stands Together Rally.
The rally — which was the brain child of Ethan Felder, co-founder of the Queens Coalition for Solidarity and Community Board 6 member — was designed to show a united front of people of all different ages, genders, colors, creeds and sexual orientations in the opposition to the current political climate in the country.
“This rally is a call to action. These are dangerous times. This was no ordinary election that just happened,” Felder said. “Here in Queens, we make our opinions known, sometimes loudly. Our rights are too important. Our values are too important. Our Constitution is too important. This is a crowd of patriots, not enemies; not enemies. History will remember all of us who are standing right here in this park today.”
The unity rally drew a lot of attention in the political world as well, with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz all delivering speeches denouncing the actions and rhetoric of President Donald Trump, and lauding their borough’s diversity as its greatest strength.
“We are here to say, not only in Queens, but in New York and across this country, that is the majority view, that our diversity is our strength,” Mark-Viverito said. “Scapegoating communities whole-cloth for political expediency is suicide. It is destroying the very fabric of this country. It is making us less safe as a nation, less safe as a city.”
“Donald Trump is not my president,” Koslowitz shouted through the microphone to cheers from the audience. “We cannot tolerate this. You know Queens is the most diverse county in the entire United States of America, and probably in the whole world, and what we have learned from each other is not to be underestimated.”
Koslowitz then went on to read a statement from Congresswoman Grace Meng, who was elected to vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, thanking everyone for showing up to the rally, and also condemning the controversial executive orders signed by Trump during his first month in office.
The rally also featured several young activists who spoke including Kenneth Shelton, a student at St. John’s University and chapter leader of Black Lives Matter; Sangida Akter, a student from Townsend Harris High School who co-founded the school’s Muslim Students Association; and several more.
A slew of other local and statewide organizations were a part of the rally including Forest Hills Asian Association, Imam Shamsi Ali from the Jamaica Muslim Center, Make the Road NY, Queens New Democrats, Queens County Young Democrats, and many more cultural, religious, political and civic leaders.
“The times that we live in demand active citizenship,” Felder said. “This rally, above all else, is a citizens call to action. We must resist. It is incumbent in the beauty of all of us to not just stand with, but protect those who are most vulnerable right now who are targeted. Now, tomorrow, and forever.”