Local leaders from around the nation's capital gathered Thursday on Pennsylvania Avenue to protest at the site of the Old Post Office Pavilion, which Donald Trump is converting into a luxury hotel.
Their message was simple: "Dump Trump!" This is the latest in the widespread backlash against Donald Trump for incendiary remarks he made about Mexican immigrants last month in a speech announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, who led the protest with Franklin Garcia, the District's shadow representative, called on the Department of the Interior to remove the Trump name and logo from the renovated building.
"This is not a building that Donald Trump built," Strauss said. "This is not a hotel on land that Donald Trump owns. This hotel is on the people's land. It is the American people's building."
Calling the Trump logo a symbol of hate, he equated it with the Confederate battle flag and the controversial logo of the Washington Redskins.
"We're here to ask the Department of the Interior to take that name, which no longer stands for anything except intolerance and hate speech, off our public building," Strauss said.
As the surrounding crowd of protestors chanted "Donald Trump is morally corrupt," Maryland State Del. Joseline Peña‐Melnyk said, "The comments that Donald Trump made clearly represent what is wrong with the Republican Party today."
She appealed to fellow Latinos to use their "economic power" against Trump.
Trump has already suffered a blowback since his remarks last month. The Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, run by Trump, were dropped by NBC and Univision. Macy's, NASCAR and other companies also cut ties with Trump, while two celebrity chefs set to open restaurants in the new Trump hotel pulled out of their deals this week.
"How can he pretend that he's qualified minimally to even be a candidate?" said Maryland State Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez, who is running for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Arlington County Board vice chairman J. Walter Tejada called Trump's candidacy "categorically ridiculous" and termed him a "charlatan, bombastic, attention-loving man."
"Is Donald Trump a reflection of the Republican Party?" Tejada asked the gathered crowd. The resounding answer came, "Yes! He is!"
For the protestors, Trump's comments went beyond just Mexicans and included all immigrants and people of color. John Boardman, executive secretary treasurer of Unite Here Local 25, said, "Donald Trump with his hate speech lends legitimacy to assassins like the young man who walked into a South Carolina church and murdered all those people."
Across the street from the protest, a small scattered group held signs proclaiming, "Trump 2016," in apparent support for the business mogul. But their presence was hardly noticed, if at all.
"We're here today for one purpose, and that is to dump Trump," D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown said.
Garcia, a co-organizer of the event and the district's highest ranking Hispanic elected official, said there needs to be a serious conversation about immigration reform in the country.
"Mr. Trump has inflicted a lot of pain on our community," Garcia concluded, "and should apologize for dehumanizing our people."
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