GRAND ARMY PLAZA – Members of New York’s Haitian community and their supporters gathered in the hundreds this morning to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, protesting against President Trump. Organized by the 1804 Movement for All Immigrants, the march was a response from the Haitian community against the vulgar comments made by the President last week about Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations.
Adding to the President’s inexcusable insult, the comments came on the eve of the 8th anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which struck on January 12, 2010, claiming the lives of more than 100,000 people. That crisis led many Haitians to immigrate to the United States under Temporary Protection Status—a status that was revoked by Trump’s administration this year.
On a cold morning, the community was out in force to repudiate the President’s language—as well as throw it back in his face with a clever chant or two. Gathering in Grand Army Plaza around 9:00 am, dressed warmly and draped in Haitian flags, members of the community greeted each other with hugs and “Bonjours,” passing out signs and placards.
An array of ancillary causes showed up as well, with representatives from Equality for Flatbush present, along with the usual socialists and radicals looking for a march, passing out their papers as bored NYPD officers waited in the cold for things to get moving.
Maxime Lorisme from the 1804 movement led the group in chants, ranging from protest classics like “No justice, no peace” and “The people, united, will never be defeated,” to new, topical fare, like “Sh*thole President” and the blunt but effective “Donald Trump! RA-CIST!”
“We are sending a strong message,” said Mrs. Florence Bonhomme Comeau, part of the Movement for All Immigrants. “For people of color—including Hispanics and Asians—when [Trump] says her prefers people from Norway, you know what that means: he’s a racist.”
“This is the first of many,” she said of today’s protest.
Sometime after 10:00, the group swelled and lurched into motion, as police on foot and in cars blocked off Plaza Street for the march to begin, flags waving and voices raised. Mr. Lorisme led the way, calling into his microphone in English and Haitian Creole, communicating with fellow organizers in French, all the while directing chants and keeping the energy up.
The protesters moved down Flatbush Avenue, past Barclay’s Center and onto Tillary Street, sings and pounding away on drums. As they moved, passers-by expressed solidarity, snapped pictures or just gawked. Car horns honked as drivers sped by, raising exultant fists in solidarity with the movement.
Supporters didn’t just come from Brooklyn, however. Rudy Laurent, deputy mayor of Spring Valley, which has a large Haitian population, came down with a group of supporters to lend their voices to the protest.
Laurent said that not only were the President’s remarks ungrateful, but they showed a lack of understanding of history—especially of Haitian soldiers who fought in American wars. Laurent cited a relative from the then-French colony of Saint-Domingue (which would later become Haiti) as one of the 500 soldiers who fought alongside Colonial troops in the Battle of Savannah, during the Revolutionary War.
“We were there—we’ve always been there,” added Eudson Tyson Francois.
“He’s spitting on our history,” said Laurent. “I never thought I’d be ashamed to be a citizen… So I’m here today to stand up against any kind of racism.”
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, the group stopped as the cold wind buffeted their flags and European tourists hurriedly shed their gloves to snap smartphone pictures.
“Allelujah, allelujah, allelujah pour Haiti,” they sang in unison, waving the bold red and blue flags of their home country. On the flags’ coat of arms, a motto:
L’union fait la force—unity makes strength.
Check out more more photos from the march below: