Last night, leaders from a host of Latino and immigrant rights groups rallied and delivered over 520,000 petition signatures calling on NBC to rescind Donald Trump’s “Saturday Night Live” hosting invitation, set for this weekend.
The #RacismIsntFunny campaign and petition drive was a collaborative effort between multiple organizations including America’s Voice, Change.org, CREDO Action, Latino Rebels, LULAC, MoveOn.org, NCLR, UFW, Voto Latino Action Fund, and many others, with petition creator Juan Escalante, Digital Campaigns Manager at AV, leading the delivery into NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center.
Both the rally and delivery received a huge amount of media attention, with cameras surrounding Escalante during both his entrance and exit from the building after the delivering the petition to NBC executives.
— NCLR (@NCLR) November 4, 2015
— Julianne Hing (@juliannehing) November 4, 2015
About two dozen protesters gathered behind metal barricades opposite NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York to demand that the network rescind an invitation that Mr. Trump had accepted to host “Saturday Night Live” this week. There were claps and chants of “Dump Trump” and “Fight back.” There were placards reading “S.N.L. stop the hate.” There were people dressed in costume, including a man appearing as a cartoon-style plutocrat, replete with a black top hat and a papier-mâché mask featuring eyeballs emblazoned with dollar signs. Among the protesters was Juan Sanchez, 45, a translator from Midtown Manhattan, who said that he believed that Mr. Trump, racial views aside, might be driven by ego. “It’s all ‘I do, I do, me, me, me, myself, myself,’ ” Mr. Sanchez said, shaking his head. “I don’t think America deserves that kind of leadership.” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, declined to comment on Wednesday evening about the protest. Xiomara Santos, 20, said she had come to New York to join the demonstration from Washington, where she is an intern with the League of United Latin American Citizens. Mr. Trump seemed most interested in spreading negativity, she said, and it would therefore be a bad idea for NBC to provide him with yet another platform.
“It is shameful for ‘SNL’ and NBC to think that racism can be repackaged as comedy,” said Juan Escalante, digital campaigns manager for America’s Voice, another group participating in the coalition. Other participating groups included the National Hispanic Media Coalition, MoveOn.org and National Council of La Raza. About two-dozen protesters were on hand as the petitions were delivered to NBC’s midtown Manhattan offices. Some chanted “dump Trump” and carried signs bearing the same phrase. The coalition is accusing NBC of reversing itself for the sake of a ratings windfall while granting Trump “a free national platform to bolster his racist and xenophobic campaign,” Zaheed said. Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said after delivering the petitions that the protest effort was not over. His group and others would use the days leading up to the broadcast to call on “SNL” sponsors to remove their commercials from Saturday’s show, he said.
“We can just turn off our TVs, but I don’t think it ends there,” Escalante said. “Nothing that he says about mass deportation of 11 million immigrants in this country is funny. Nothing about being called a murderer or a rapist is funny for me.” “Donald Trump is the only one who’s laughing because people are paying attention to him,” he said. On Thursday, advocates plan to start calling potential “SNL” advertisersto encourage them to back out. Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told reporters that Trump was newsworthy and belonged on news shows. “But ‘Saturday Night Live’ is not a news organization. It is a cultural pop giant,” he said. “And by having him on and going ha-ha-ha and hee-hee-hee, all they’re doing is legitimizing his views.” They’re going for ratings above substance, he argued—NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” raked in its best ratings in two and a half years when Trump was a guest earlier this year. But Nogales said it wasn’t worth it. “Wake up. Are you willing to lose the Latino community, 18% of the U.S. population, to get a fast, quick rating bump?” Nogales said. Several protesters said the ‘SNL’ invitation was hypocritical for NBC. They also cited recent attacks on Latino protesters at Trump rallies as reasons why The Donald should be booted. NBC has repeatedly declined to comment on the controversy. Protester Luis Torres, 33, whose parents are Mexican immigrants, admitted he was a big fan of “SNL.” That’s one of the reasons he came to the rally. “The American public gets their news from these kind of programs,” he said. “Candidates use ‘SNL’ to humanize their candidacies and show they’re relatable. We cannot keep giving people like Donald Trump a platform to spew their racist, xenophobic message.”
As reported by multiple outlets, with NBC still refusing to rescind Trump’s invitation, organizers are planning another rally the day of the show’s taping, with one group offering a $5,000 “bounty” to anyone willing to disrupt the show’s taping itself.