By Maribel Hastings and David Torres:
With the chant “We are here and we’re not leaving; if you want a wall, we’ll give you a wall,” immigrants and pro-immigrant activists deployed an “anti-Donald Trump wall” made of fabric in the protest zone at Public Square and then through the streets around the center of this city that is hosting the Republican National Convention.
In this zone, which is the daily site of protests and manifestations on diverse topics, one thing remains clear: there’s more diversity of ideas and people outside of the Republican National Convention than inside, walled in by both security and the isolationist ideas that emanate from within.
One of the biggest contrasts with previous conventions is the nearly non-existent presence of Latino leaders, above all at the podium. Although Wednesday the Texas Senator and would-be presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R) addressed the gathering, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio sent video remarks, this is a mostly-Anglo Saxon assembly with radical messages on many issues, especially immigration.
This is what motivated activists from all across the country, and diverse pro-immigrant groups, among them Mijente and Puente, to confront the hate with their wall of tolerance.
“It is important to confront a group of people, Trump and the Republican Party, that hates us and always speaks against us,” said Huelmely de Jesús with United We Dream in Wisconsin.
Her group unrolled a banner that read, among other things: “Xenophobia kills, Islamophobia kills, police brutality kills, misogyny kills.”
The demonstrators carried out their promise of raising a wall to “wall-in” the rhetoric of hate and xenophobia flowing from the Trump campaign.
“You can’t wait until this man becomes president to begin the fight. You have to begin here and stop it from here before he has a chance to become president, because how are we going to leave, not just our community, but the entire country,” said Tomás Martínez, another demonstrator.
In his words and in the energetic participation in this event it remained clear that the people gathering at the Republican National Convention have been walled in by their own anti-immigrant and exclusionary rhetoric.
Today some people took to the streets, just as others hope that the anti-Trump vote will proceed to the polls in November. Others like the taxi driver originally from Nigeria who drove us to the protest. His daughter speaks Spanish and teaches English as a Second Language to Mexican immigrants.
Timidly he asked us: “Do you guys like Trump?”
After hearing the response, he breathed a sigh of relief.
Maribel Hastings is Senior Advisor for America’s Voice and David Torres is Spanish Media Advisor for America’s Voice.