FOREST HILLS, QUEENS — Hundreds of people gathered in the brisk air and sunshine Feb. 26 in MacDonald Park in Forest Hills, Queens to send a clear message to Donald Trump that Queens residents stand with Muslim, Jewish, LGBT, Black and Brown communities.
Community Board 6 member Ethan Felder and co-sponsor Mazeda Uddin hosted the demonstration against Trump’s anti-immigration “laws.”
The demonstration was attended by several NYC representatives who spoke out against the first eight weeks of Trump’s anti-people administration. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito attended the rally. “These rallies are resistance!” she said. “In coming together, we celebrate our diversity and show our strength as a city and a country. …[T]his administration obviously seeks to project a picture that our diversity is our weakness, and we are here to say, not only in Queens, but in New York and across this country…the majority view [is] that our diversity is our strength.”
Mothers and fathers pushed baby carriages and stood with their children, holding signs of solidarity with their diverse community. Young people, elders, and all ages in between were present, joining in with chants of “Love not hate makes America great!” and “Black Lives Matter!” One sign on a baby carriage read, “He builds a Wall. I’ll grow up and tear it Down!”
Rallygoers displayed solidarity against the fear mongering of this administration of multi-millionaires and billionaires who now control all three branches of US government. People are demonstrating by the thousands in city after city and even in small towns against the Trump administration’s fascist-like edicts.
A spokesperson for Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) of New York, addressed the crowd, saying, “I gain perspective by looking out at your faces, because you coming out here today is what makes me get up every morning. Sometimes it is difficult when you have to deal with children being bullied in school; sometimes it is difficult to visit someone in the hospital whose eye socket is broken just because they are identified as Muslim, but you know what? It is worth it. When I look out at your faces, I know we are not alone; we have each others’ back [sic]. We will fight for one another today, tomorrow, and the day after.”
Also speaking at the rally were Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, and others.
Katz reminded everyone of the diversity of Queens. “Of one hundred and thirty languages, one hundred and twenty countries, fifty percent of people in Queens were not born here. Right now, we are the most diverse area on the planet.” She continued, “This country was built on the backs of immigrant labor, this country was built by folks who choose this country to be their home, and it’s not just about [the right to be] here, it’s about humanity.”
Peacemakers also attended the rally. Viet Nam Veteran Bob Keilbach of Chapter 34 of Veterans for Peace gave the perspective of his chapter. “Veterans for Peace supports diversity. This country has too often demonized other people of other countries agitating for American militarism. Veterans for Peace is trying to end militarism in our society, bring war money home, and support diversity.”
What was missing from many of the remarks was the issue of class. We have a bunch of millionaires and billionaires with an agenda to destroy labor rights, to take away women’s bodily autonomy, and to protect racist police. They want to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and rip up the Paris Agreement to control climate change, in the name of “making jobs.” This will be to the detriment of all of us.