The bitter cold temperatures on this Martin Luther King (MLK) Day did not keep the Haitians from protesting and showing their reaction to President Trump’s reported remarks about the country of Haiti and the continent of Africa. The rally started around 2:00 p.m. and was held in the Times Square area of Manhattan. The main stage of the rally was situated in the intersection of Broadway between 41st and 42nd Street. Cassady Kent, who attended the rally, said “I can’t believe people stayed this long in 28 degree weather.” “I hope Trump performs a miracle and turns the country against him.” “We need to unite, I think anything that anyone can do to unite this country is a positive thing” says Kent.
The rally was full of energy, music, and the speakers kept their speeches directed at one man and that was the President Trump. Although the rally was held to combat the depiction the President reportedly made about the country being a “shit hole”, wider issues were brought to the forefront like the end of the Temporary Protected Status program (TPS). Many Haitians were awarded the status due to the deadly earthquake in 2010 that devastated the country. Since President Trump decided not to renew TPS, if a solution to the problem isn’t provided, thousands will be sent back to Haiti where their future is uncertain.
Paul Joseph is a protester who has been affected by the end of the TPS program. “I’m happy that it was peaceful, and I’m reminded of the famous Dr. Martin Luther King quote, In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. Joseph is a chemist and does not know what will happen if he cannot work in this country anymore. According to him, life in Haiti before the earthquake was comfortable, but a person with his skills he wonders if there will be a job for him. If he should go back to Haiti, Joseph says he will have to worry about having a roof over his head and food on his table.
Immigration has been a big issue since President Trump was elected to office. Issues surrounding Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, TPS immigrants from other countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua affected by the end of the program have become prominent in the news recently. David Roush, a protester at the rally, said “We are all under attack by white fascists, oligarchs, and plutocrats.” “We have to claim the public space before we lose it” said Roush. Several elected officials across the city like New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene attended the rally or similar events to show their support for the protesters.
Note: I couldn’t verify the veracity of the quote. While there are plenty of websites that attribute the quote to Dr. King, I couldn’t find the specific speech where he said the enemies line.