Despite rain and U.S. Secret Service attempts to intimidate them, multinational protesters from seven states and the District of Columbia held a stirring, spirited demonstration in front of the White House in Lafayette Park and on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sat., May 19, 2018 to denounce Donald Trump’s ignorance and racism, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), war, U.S. police profiling and terror against black and brown communities, and the United Nations’ continuing occupation of Haiti.
Haitian, African, Latin American, and North American demonstrators also demanded that the U.S. and UN pay reparations to Haiti and stop meddling in Haiti’s elections. The demo was organized by the 1804 Movement for All Immigrants along with Haitian groups from Massachusetts, Florida, and the DC area.
Many of the demonstrators traveled to the U.S. capital by bus, train, and car from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Others came from the capital district states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.
The demonstrators rallied for the most part in Lafayette Park, but for about 45 minutes, they marched with their banner and rallied in the street in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House’s address. The hundreds of tourists there took pictures and videos and shouted encouragement. Some even joined in the demonstration.
The protestors chanted slogans such as “No Justice! No Peace!”, “Green cards for TPS,” and “Dump Trump!”
The U.S. Secret Service police tried to intimidate the demonstrators by arresting one of the speakers after she had addressed the rally. The cops claimed that she had “pushed a sign” of an anti-abortion rally nearby as she was leaving the 1804 Movement’s protest with two other demonstrators. The arresting officer threatened all the 1804 Movement demonstrators with arrest as they incredulously surrounded him, voicing their outrage. The Secret Service then cleared Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park, supposedly to “investigate” the matter, thereby stopping the rally. After about 20 minutes, the masquerade could no longer be sustained. The three detained people were released without charges, and the demonstration resumed with renewed vigor and ire.
Among the many speakers were: Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International; Sia Finoh, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates and United African Congress representative; Eugene Puryear, “By Any Means Necessary” radio host and former Vice Presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL); Georgette Delinois of the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast (HSNNE); Eugenia Charles, host of Konbit Lakay on WPFW-FM and executive director of the Mapou Foundation; Florence Jean Joseph of the Konfederasyon Vodouyizan Ayisyen (KVA); Jonathan Brown of Refuse Fascism; Marty Goodman of Socialist Action; Berthony Dupont, the director of Haïti Liberté newspaper; and Lee Patterson of the Free Mumia Coalition.
“Today we are fighting a new form of slavery,” said Marie Paule Florestal, who read the statement of the 1804 Movement for All Immigrants. “An insatiable, war-waging empire, with its political capital right here [in Washington, DC], enslaves our countries, where our people are forced to work for pennies a day for U.S. corporations. If we in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, or Asia try to flee our plight, to sell our smarts and labor elsewhere, we are arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard or Border Patrol.”
In Boston, the Bus Drivers Union, the New England Human Rights Organization (NEHRO), and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) helped to spread the word about the May 19 rally. Meanwhile, in Miami, the Family Action Network of Miami (FANM), founded by Marleine Bastien, and the long-standing popular organization Veye Yo participated in planning meetings and did their best to find the time and money to attend the rally, but in the end could not make it.
“Although we knew the on-and-off rain for days all along the East Coast would discourage many from coming out, the demonstration was a remarkable success,” said unionist Ray Laforest, who was one of the event’s emcees along with the PSL’s Kerbie Joseph. “The people who came out were militant, the message sent to Trump was clear, and the media and crowds which filmed and watched our rally were greatly impressed. Everyone who participated was very happy afterwards.”
The 1804 Movement for All Immigrants, a coalition of over 20 groups, will be meeting in the coming days and weeks to plan their next action. If you would like to get involved, you can contact them by calling 718.421.0162 or visit their website, 1804movement.org.