Most New Yorkers don’t like to be reminded that the current orange-hued Republican presidential nominee is technically one of us. Yes, it’s true. Say it with us: Donald J. Trump is a New Yorker. (Ugh– we know, we hate to admit it too). Considering that Trump’s name can be found all over the city, usually in huge gold letters, you’d think that our tiny-handed GOP candidate has something to prove. Whatever the motive, Trump’s habit of branding his structures with his own name serves as a constant, nauseating reminder of his inextricable ties to the city.
Gigi Li, Community Board 3‘s chairperson who also happens to be running for Sheldon Silver’s New York State Assembly seat in the fast-approaching Democratic primaries this fall, organized a public action in front of Trump’s Wall Street tower today. Her cause, aside from gaining some name recognition of her own, was to relay her position that, while, Trump’s name may be emblazoned on various buildings across the city, his values have no place here.
The Donald has often boasted of the wonders he’s done for New York City – a sentiment echoed by an op-ed in the New York Post back in February, but one that doesn’t seem to be shared by many more.
Early this afternoon, Li and members of her campaign gathered in front of The Trump Building at 40 Wall Street to protest Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and show that New York isn’t all about that hate. “We stand here today to send a clear message that Trump does not speak for New Yorkers and for immigrants,” she said.
Li, who was born in Hong Kong and gained her US citizenship while completing her university education here, stressed the value that immigrants have brought and continue to bring to the city and the country as a whole. She cited her own parents’ contributions and their dedication to hard work as small business owners. “Trump said he’s responsible for New York coming back into the economy, but it’s immigrants that have worked and given their blood, sweat, and tears to make this city great,” she argued.
The 65th District that Li is aiming to represent includes parts of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, an area that thrives on immigrants and a place, that she said, is evidence of their positive contributions. “This district is so diverse,” she explained. Li also pointed to the district’s landmarks, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, two icons of American history that both serve as a testament to the immigrant experience.
The New York State Assembly Democratic primaries will be held on September 13, when Li will face off with the incumbent Alice Cancel, disgraced Assembly Member Sheldon Silver‘s chosen successor who won a landslide victory in the special elections held by the County Committee earlier this year. A number of other candidates have thrown their hat into the ring including community activist Don Lee, local District Leader Paul Newell, Yuh-Line Niou (who served as the Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Ron Kim), and District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar.
Li, who’s served Manhattan Community Board 3 for the past four years, was supposed to be joined by Council Member Margaret Chin, Nancy Ortiz (the President of Vladeck Houses tenant association), and Christopher Marte, yet another candidate running for the Assembly seat. But Li ended up standing alone in front of the billionaire’s namesake building. A spokesperson for Council Member Chin, who has endorsed Li, confirmed that Chin was unable to attend today’s rally due to a scheduling conflict, but added that the Council Member had chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton for President. The spokesperson said that Chin was focusing her efforts “on having conversations about Hillary Clinton’s strength [rather] than focusing on her opponent.”
Li and her team ended the rally by kicking off a chant of “Trump is wrong and racist!” while curious tourists stopped, took photos of the Trump tower, and walked on, probably in search of a watery, $4 hot dog.