BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | Chanting “Silence equals death, fuck the NRA” and “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump go away,” some 200 people joined a protest held at Trump Tower to counter the rhetoric that the presumptive Republican nominee for president has used to attack Muslims, Mexicans, and other groups.
“We’re tired of the bigotry and hatred and murder,” said Andrew Velez, a member of ACT UP NY, the AIDS activist group, during the June 21 protest. “After the massacre in Orlando, he said, ‘Well, if there had been more guns that might not have happened.’ He’s a fool who needs to be put out to pasture.”
Carrying a long rainbow banner that was designed by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag, that read “Republican Hate Kills,” the crowd spent an hour chanting and listening to speeches. Passersby, who had to squeeze through the narrow space left between the front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street and the protestors, sometimes joined in the chants. One or two made insulting comments about the protestors and were quickly confronted with cries of “Shame, shame, shame.”
The protest was organized by ACT UP NY and a coalition of Muslim, Latinx, and LGBT organizations. Four counter-protestors showed up with signs reading “Build the wall” and “Deport illegal aliens.” When one counter-protestor chanted “Build the wall,” members of ACT UP responded with “Around Trump.”
Trump has offended large swathes of the American public with his pronouncements that Mexico was sending rapists and drug dealers across the border into the US. Trump’s promise to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the US was met with derision by some of the Republicans who were vying for the nomination because it simply cannot be done. His declaration that he would ban Muslims from entering the US has provoked similar responses.
“My family can no longer be attacked,” said Patty Rosado, who was among the organizers of a boycott of Fire Island businesses owned by Ian Reisner, a gay real estate developer who donated to Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, both of whom have anti-LGBT records. “It has to stop. I am so angry, I am so angry with him.”
Trump’s response to the June 12 killings of 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, LGBT nightclub was widely criticized because the candidate seized on the deaths to claim that he was correct about the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” and that people “are congratulating me for being right.” The gunman may have been a jihadi or he may have been mentally ill. The FBI, which is investigating the killings, will likely not reach a conclusion, if it ever does, for months or longer.
The Trump Tower protest was one of two targeting the celebrity on a day when he met with roughly 900 Evangelicals to discuss his candidacy and what a Trump presidency would look like. That meeting was held at the New York Marriott Marquis. GetEQUAL picketed there and disrupted a press conference the Evangelicals held following their meeting with Trump.
“I disrupted it when Tony Perkins started speaking,” said Heather Cronk, a co-executive director of the activist group, referring to the head of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group.
Angela Peoples, also a co-executive director of GetEQUAL, posted a video on Twitter of her dogging Perkins for over a minute as he was leaving the hotel and apparently searching for his ride.
“You are responsible for hate and lies, a culture that has fueled violence against our community,” Peoples can be heard saying to Perkins as she cornered him in a revolving door. “What do you have to say for yourself, sir?”
At the press conference, Cronk said, a reporter asked the Evangelicals if any of them would be endorsing Trump and they all said they would not.
“This was bad day for Evangelicals, it was a bad day for Donald Trump,” Cronk told Gay City News at the Trump Tower protest. “He got nothing out of this.”