By Gabe Falsetta
Hundreds of people gathered in the brisk air and sunshine Sunday afternoon in MacDonald Park in Forest Hills, Queens to send a clear message to Mr. 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 February 26th 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!”
It was a beautiful display of solidarity against the fear mongering of this administration of multi-millionaires and billionaires who now control all three branches of our government. Trump continues to turn a blind eye towards the people, who are demonstrating by the thousands in city after city and even in small towns against his administration’s fascist-like edicts.
A spokesperson for Care New York, Council on American Islamic Relations 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. 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.
Melinda 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. They came here to educate their children. 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; it’s about a woman’s right to choose; it’s about the LGBT community. If we are not making our voices heard, who is there to hear it?”
Peacemakers attended the rally— Viet Nam Veteran Bob Keilbach of Chapter 34 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.”
Most of the speeches were about diversity and the Muslim community. What was missing for the most part was the issue of class. We have a bunch of millionaires and billionaires with an ultra-right agenda to destroy labor rights, to take away women’s right to choose, and to prevent police reform. 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. The only jobs they promise are temporary jobs, unless you count the thousands of oil and gas leaks that will have to be patched (if they are detected) along the thousands of miles of pipelines – after they have already poisoned our water, air, and soil.
Let us celebrate the diversity of Queens, and all the demonstrations across the country against the millionaire and billionaire cabal trying to destroy our democracy.