CLEVELAND ― A coalition of immigrant rights activists and progressive groups rallied to wall off GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump instead of the U.S.-Mexico border at a protest on Wednesday.
Taking aim at Trump’s repeated proposal to create a massive border wall, several hundred protesters marched from Public Square downtown to the entrance of the Quicken Loans Arena, the main site of the Republican National Convention. There, chanting “Wall off Trump,” they unfurled a series of banners and lined up along several blocks of Prospect Avenue.
“We’re not building a wall that divides,” Marisa Franco, the director of the activist group Mijente, told reporters. “We’re building one that protects our people.”
Alexander McCoy, who spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he was participating in the symbolic gesture because Trump’s harsh comments about Mexicans and Muslims would undermine security.
Turning people against one another ― especially using racist and bigoted language ― makes us weaker than any outside enemy. Alexander McCoy, Vets Versus Hate
“As someone who volunteered to serve and protect our country, I think we draw strength from the diversity of our community,” McCoy, who belongs to a group called Vets Versus Hate, told The Huffington Post. “Turning people against one another ― especially using racist and bigoted language ― makes us weaker than any outside enemy.”
“We’re here today to stop this cancer,” activist Tomás Martínez said, describing Trump as a racist who “shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near an atomic bomb.”
Grassroots immigrant rights groups have spent much of the last few years pressuring President Barack Obama and other Democrats to stem deportations and reduce immigrant detention.
But Trump’s farcically hostile comments about Mexicans and his campaign pledge to build a border wall ― and make Mexico pay for it ― have prompted immigrant groups to take greater aim at Republicans.
The GOP largely sympathizes with some elements of Trump’s hard line on immigration. On Monday, the Republican National Committee adopted a party platform that included support for a wall that covers the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Even so, many of the protest organizers blamed the current immigration crisis on the Obama administration, saying the government could do more to curtail deportations and rely less on immigrant detention.
“The first thing we have to do is to dismantle the deportation and detention system that President Obama created,” Mijente’s Franco said.
Immigrant rights groups also plan to hold a protest aimed at Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist