Hundreds of people rallied in support of the city’s Haitian community outside of the Trump Building on Wall Street Friday afternoon, raucously beating drums, waving Haitian flags and chanting “Donald Trump, racist.”
Protesters, who started their rally at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, were rallying outside of one of President Donald Trump’s namesake buildings in response to his alleged disparaging comments about Haiti during a meeting with senators on immigration policy.
Harlem resident Sandy Alexis, 38, came from Haiti to the United States when she was 9 years old.
“I am here because I think we have spread enough hate and I want to spread some love. I always consider that we all live in one planet,” she said. “The sooner we understand that there is one race, one planet, we will consider each other as our brothers and sisters.”
Alexis said she attended the protest to let the world know that regardless of what Trump said about Haiti, “we believe that we are not what he says.”
Trump, in a tweet, denied he said, “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.” But Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting, said the president had used “vile, vulgar” language, including using the word “shithole” when speaking about African nations.
Carl Dix, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA and founding member of the Refuse Fascism movement, said at the rally that Haiti is poor because “countries like the U.S. and Britain plundered us.”
“When you strike one of us, you have struck us all,” he added. “This is everybody’s fight. Don’t say it’s just the Africans’.”
On Wednesday, the Trump administration said Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, bringing an end to a small-scale effort to employ those who came to the United States after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010.
DHS said in a regulatory filing that it was removing Haiti from lists of more than 80 countries whose citizens can be granted H-2A and H-2B visas, given to seasonal workers in agriculture and other industries.
It cited what it said were “high levels of fraud and abuse” by Haitians with the visas, and a “high rate of overstaying the terms” of their visas.
Speaking to the crowd of roughly 200 people on Friday, New York Assemb. Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) called Trump “a chump” and rallied for unity in defying the current administration.
“Long live Haiti. Long live the Haitian revolution. We are one African people. We are one people,” Barron said. “We say he doesn’t belong in the White House, he belongs in the doghouse. Let’s impeach Donald Trump.”
MariePaule Florestal, with the 1804 Movement, which organized the demonstration, read allowed a list of demands to the Trump administration:
- “That Trump publicly apologize to all Haitians, Africans and African-Americans for his racist remarks.”
- “That permanent U.S. residency be granted to all holders of Temporary Protected Status currently in the U.S.”
- “That Washington pay reparations to Haiti for over a century of U.S. crimes against and exploitation of Haiti’s people and that the United Nations, Washington’s handmaiden, pay reparations to Haitian cholera victims because UN soldiers introduced the bacterial disease into Haiti in 2010.”
- “That U.S. police forces stop all forms of racial profiling and terror in the U.S., above all against black and brown people.”
- “That there be an immediate end to the UN military occupation of Haiti and to U.S. meddling in Haiti’s elections.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Trump praised Haitians.
“I love the people. There’s a tremendous warmth,” he said. “And they’re very hardworking people.”
Following the rally, protesters with cowbells, drums, bamboo sticks and horns, danced to the Rara-style of music, which is common during street processions in Haiti.