Protesters gathered at Upper Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park Tuesday to denounce a recent demonstration by Identity Evropa — a white supremacist group that rallied in the same location days before.
Members of Identity Evropa, which has been identified as a white supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, unfurled a banner Saturday reading “STOP THE INVASION, END IMMIGRATION” at the park’s Billings Arcade, according to the group’s Twitter account. In response, Rep. Adriano Espaillat organized Tuesday’s event, titled “Uptown Standing Together Against Racism and Xenophobia,” drawing hundreds to Billings Lawn in support.
Fort Tryon Park is situated between Hudson Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood — neighborhoods with predominantly Hispanic populations. The speakers at Tuesday’s event, including State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, Councilman Mark Levine and Anti-Defamation League Associate Regional Director Melanie Robbins, lauded the neighborhood’s history of accepting immigrants of all ethnicities.
Espaillat called the gathering a celebration of “a neighborhood that welcomed the survivors of the Holocaust right down the street, a neighborhood that welcomed African Americans as they fled Jim Crow in the South, a neighborhood that has welcomed people from all around the world.”
“You come and mar the sanctity of this magnificent park with a message of hate and try to disrupt the beauty that we know here of our immigrant community, you’ve just picked a fight with 20 million New Yorkers,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Many of the protesters were longtime Washington Heights residents.
Hanna Griff-Sleven, 59, has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and brought a photograph of her Jewish ancestors in Lithuania.
“To see that sign here — these guys must have known that a lot of German Jews were here and how offensive it is,” she said. “That they dared to do that made me so angry. Since I’ve been here I’ve never had any of that kind of stuff happen here.”
She added that the community’s small-town feel allowed it to rally together so quickly.
Sisters Cindy and Tiffany Sano, 30 and 24, lifelong Washington Heights residents, came bearing matching posters of President Donald Trump’s face inside swastikas.
“I wouldn’t think in my neighborhood I’d have to come fight fascism,” Cindy Sano said.
She described the neighborhood as quiet and welcoming of her and her sister as Dominicans.
“It gets exhausting,” Tiffany Sano said. “Once Trump became president, I stopped being surprised when these things happen.”