Hundreds gathered in Tompkins Square Park last night in a “Rally Against Hate,” responding to Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration. The president’s directives last week to bar entry of immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries has particular poignance in the East Village, a neighborhood that has long been defined by its immigrant community. The park has served as a gathering space for protest for over a century, from the 1857 immigrant outcry against unemployment and food shortages, to its 1960s incarnation as a counterculture activist hub, to the Trump outrage last night.
Among the New York City officials who spoke was councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who has worked for decades on inclusive citywide housing. Young people held cardboard signs with the hashtag #NoBanNoWall, but the gathering also drew older East Village fixtures like David McGreevy, a public school teacher who has lived in the neighborhood for decades. He said he hadn’t protested in the park since the 1980s, but “this Trump thing has put me out in the street for the first time in a long time.”
Unlike other mass demonstrations in New York City, the rally had a more intimate tone of neighborhood solidarity and local action. Mendez and organization leaders emphasized New York’s commitment to being a sanctuary city. That pompted mass cheers, the crowd chanting, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.”
Additional reporting by Carol Schaffer.