As Trump’s political campaign has shifted from a far-fetched reality show to an actual presidential campaign, America has also experienced a radical change. From a Mexican male in Berwyn, Illinois stoned after one of Trump’s racist speeches to attacks on Muslim groups following a Trump rally, it is apparent that his supporters are reinforcing his words through acts of violence. The words of Trump spur action.
Now that Donald Trump is the presumed nominee of the Republican Party, many groups are taking a stand against Trump and the bigotry that he endorses. The “Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC” comprised of 30 different activist groups are mobilizing a “Dump Trump” protest in Cleveland. This movement to get rid of Trump is not new, and started to form in October as prominent cities started to show anti-Trump sentiment.
The coalition’s next move is to protest the Republican National Convention (RNC) taking place in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18. Tom Burke, spokesman of the Coalition, depicts the importance of taking a stand to oppose Trump’s presence in the political sphere.
“At first, hundreds came out. Then, in some cities thousands started to appear. And then, in Chicago, almost 10,000 people came out in a peaceful protest to oppose Trump’s presence,” he said. “We want to take that spirit to Cleveland with us where the masses of people turn out to say, ‘We won’t stand for the racist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic Trump campaign and its supporters. We want peace, justice, and equality.’”
The protest movement against Trump is also active within the Chicago community. The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has a student-run organization that plans on joining the movement to protest the RNC. This group is known by the name “Student and Graduate Activists.”
Patrick Paniagua, a member of the UIC Student and Graduate Activists, explains that he was spurred into action by Trump’s speeches.
“I feel like people try to make this a partisan issue, and it’s much more than that. I am Mexican American, and when Trump makes comments I take it personally,” Paniagua said. “Specifically, I feel like that rhetoric, even though it is just words, causes harm. I live close to Berwyn, Illinois and there was a hate crime against a Mexican male—he was stoned. This man had to go to the hospital because of this incident.”
Muhammad Sankari, a member of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and an organizer at the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) states that protesting the RNC is much bigger than protesting solely Trump and the Republican Party as a whole.
“Trump is simply just the face of this borderline fascist racism that we are currently experiencing in this country, and he has become the most vocal, outspoken proponent of it. Our protest and our stance against him is not just the stance against Trump, but it is a stance against the policies that he is espousing,” said Sankari.
Sankari calls for the community to unite against Trump not only due to the direct attacks on the Islamic faith and Muslim American community, but states that a piece of the action is “understanding how Arabs and Muslims fit into the social fabric of the United States.”
These protest groups plan to march and protest whether or not they receive formal Cleveland permits to do so. Based on the information received by Burke, the city is not cooperating in the effort to protest.
The Coalition applied for a parade permit to march down and around the Quicken Loans Arena (site for the RNC) and to Cleveland Central Square. In this plan they would be within sight and sound of the convention and use public venues. The city of Cleveland rejected that plan.
The ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against Cleveland on Tuesday claiming “the city’s rules for protesters during July’s Republican National Convention violate the free speech rights of demonstrators and others attending the event.” As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU is asking the judge to force the city “to immediately act upon permit applications from groups seeking to protest the GOP convention, to alter the official ‘parade route’ so protesters can be seen and heard by GOP delegates, and to increase the hours during which parades may take place.”
Burke said, “The city is trying to get the people to march in a parade from nowhere to nowhere. We are not going to do that. We will march with or without the permit.”
While the fight against Trump by a variety of activist, student, and community groups is united by a single purpose to counter the racist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic Trump campaign, the desired outcome is not unanimous.
Paniagua believes that there is little to do to stop Trump from being the Republican nominee. Rather he states, “We are protesting to show that we aren’t going to stand for these candidates. We are in disbelief and are angry, because it says more about the way America is right now rather than Trump.”
Burke, Paniagua and Sankari fight through the coalition to promote an America that values peace, justice, and equality. These three activists serve as community voices who take a stand against the bigotry and ignorance of the Trump campaign. They intend on standing up and demonstrating their democratic right to protest the RNC taking place in Cleveland.