March Across Brooklyn Bridge to Wall Street’s Trump Building

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Hundreds of Haitians and their supporters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on a bitterly cold Friday morning to denounce Trump’s racism. Credit: Kim Ives/Haïti Liberté

Fueled by anger over Trump’s racist remarks, and his refusal to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that let 60,000 Haitians and 262,000 Salvadorans, among others, legally live and work in the United States, members of New York and New Jersey’s Haitian community gathered in Brooklyn to form the “1804 Movement for All Immigrants” on Jan. 13.

On Jan. 18, the Department of Homeland Security added insult to injury when it declared that people from Haiti, Belize, and Samoa were no longer eligible to apply for visas for seasonal and farmworker jobs.

The demands of the 1804 Movement – open to all who agree – are: Trump’s public apology for his racist remarks; permanent residency for all current TPS holders; reparations for the U.S. crimes against the Haitian people; an end to all forms of racial profiling and police terror; and an end to the UN/U.S. occupation of Haiti.

It was a long, cold, militant march that grew as it progressed along Flatbush Avenue and especially as it crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. People driving by honked and cheered, which, along with a few rara trumpets and drums, kept up spirits and the pace.

But the 1804 Movement didn’t stop with issuing a set of demands. It took them to the streets six days later in a long march from Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, down Flatbush Avenue, across the Brooklyn Bridge, past the Federal Building in Lower Manhattan, then down Broadway to the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street.

It was a long, cold, militant march that grew as it progressed along Flatbush Avenue and especially as it crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. People driving by honked and cheered, which, along with a few rara trumpets and drums, kept up spirits and the pace.

The signs were sharp, varied and caught the mood of the march. The collection boxes for the 1804 Movement said “Time is up, Trump — For your racist, anti-immigrant words & policies!” A popular Workers World placard with a portrait of Jean-Jacques Dessalines read “Jean-Jacques Dessalines defeated all the Trumps – Reparations for Haiti!!” A homemade sign simply read “Trump Must Go!!!”

Once the march reached Manhattan, where it was significantly larger than it was at its start and was animated by the rara bande-à-pied Dja Rara, it went past the Federal Building in Foley Square, which was under tight security, and then marched to the Trump building at 40 Wall Street.

Among the speakers at the rally were:  Assemblyman Charles Barron, who marched on the front banner all the way from Grand Army Plaza; BAJI activist Albert Saint Jean; Imani Henry of Equality for Flatbush and Workers World party; unionist Marie Paule Florestal, who read the declaration of the 1804 Movement for All Immigrants; Haitian American activist Kerbie Joseph of the Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL);  Stephanie Legros spoke on behalf of Haitian youth; Nina Mariella spoke for the Filipino Group Bayan.  MC Jocelyn Gay read a statement from novelist Edwidge Danticat. Haitian artists Ayiti Bluez and Ann Bantu sang the Haitian national anthem, “La Dessalinienne” and Haitian artist E-Uneek performed rap.

In the Haitian community, a long march on a work-day and school-day means that the organizers are very serious about the issues the march is raising. It was a good, first response to the racist, xenophobic attacks that are coming from  the Trump regime.

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