WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers and dozens of protesters came to the site of the future Trump International Hotel in the nation's capital Thursday to protest racist comments about the Latino community made by GOP presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump and to call for a boycott of his businesses and products.
“He has put everyone into the category of rapists and drug dealers,” Maryland state Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D) said. “A position of hatred and xenophobia being expressed by a presidential candidate who wishes to lead this great nation in the future. How can that be tolerated?”
Politicians were wearing buttons that read "Dump Trump." Protesters showed up with signs that read “Trump is morally bankrupt,” and “Stand with immigrant workers.” They chanted, "We are in the fight.”
The backlash against the real estate mogul began after his presidential announcement speech last month, when Trump said Mexican immigration was bringing drugs, crime and "rapists" into the U.S.
A slew of companies, including Macy's and NBC, cut corporate ties
with Trump after the comments. Most recently, Spanish-born celebrity chef José Andrés announced he will no longer open a flagship restaurant in Trump’s Washington hotel.
Some D.C.-area lawmakers believe that boycotting businesses and products tied to Trump is the best way to fight back.
“We have huge economic power. Don’t go to his hotels. Don’t go to his restaurants. Boycott everything that’s even closely related to Trump,” Gutierrez said.
She even called on the Latino construction workers who are currently renovating the space to find another job, saying they don’t need money that’s “tainted” with hatred.
Another Democratic Maryland state delegate, Joseline Peña-Melnyk, echoed her fellow politician's sentiments.
“A lot of the people who work on this building are Latinos," she said. "He should not be the benefit of our hard work.”
D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D), who also spoke at the protest, called on the federal government to stop the renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue, the site of the future hotel.
“This is not a hotel that Mr. Trump built, bought or land that he owns. This is public space, federal land that belongs to the people of the United States of America," Strauss said. “We would like the Department of the Interior, who controls this scaffolding and who controls this space, to remove this logo, so long as it continues to be a symbol of hate speech.”
Meanwhile, across the street from the protest, a small group gathered in support of Trump.
Alvin Whittaker, one of those present, admitted Trump “should’ve chosen his words differently,” but doesn’t think the comments will have “that much of an effect” in the long run.
Strauss disagrees and said he thinks continuing construction on the hotel is an insult to the diverse community that makes up the nation’s capital.
“It’s not just wrong and offensive, it’s not something that we the taxpayers should be subsidizing in public space,” Strauss said.