CLEVELAND — Immigration protesters turned the tables on Donald Trump on Wednesday, making a human chain outside the GOP convention arena to “wall off Trump.”
Trump has said on the campaign trail that he wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to combat undocumented immigrants from crossing the border. Immigration protesters opted to make their wall out of canvas banners with red bricks painted on them.
Their protest began at Public Square, a park area about a half-mile from the Quicken Loans Arena, where delegates meet.
In one area, a handful of people with the pro-immigration group United We Dream unfolded banners that read, “Misogyny KILLS,” “Police Brutality KILLS,” “Islamophobia KILLS,” “#DUMPTRUMP.”
At one point an African-American man wearing a “Make American Great Again” baseball hat started shouting at the immigration activists that “all lives matter!”
On the southern edge of the square, a group known as “Mijente” started lining up on the cement steps. They had canvas tarps draped over themselves. Arms outstretched, they formed a canvas wall and chanted, “Wall off Trump!”
This group eventually started to move down the street, with several police officers following. They turned down a crowded street toward the convention venue and came face-to-face with GOP supporters milling around the restaurants and street vendors selling Trump memorabilia.
The protesters stopped to form their canvas wall again. They began to sing, “The walls they that they build to tear us apart will never be strong as the walls of our heart.” and then walked towards the Q, which is shorthand for the Quicken Loans Arena.
They drew onlookers and more police.
“We’re scared,” one protester said. “We’re scared of [Trump]’s policies and how they’re going to affect our communities.”
Antonio Gutierrez, 27, of Chicago is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Gutierrez, who helped form the protest wall, said he wanted to be in Cleveland to take a stand against Trump.
“I don’t think I’m a criminal,” Gutierrez said. “So I’m here to put a face to the issue and to represent my community.”
More protesters from public square carrying banners emerged from a nearby street. And together, the groups formed a canvas wall that stretched for more than two blocks.
The protesters continued to chant, “Shut it down!” as police on bikes formed barriers on the streets. One police officer told one of the protest leaders that he should make his point and move along.
After nearly an hour in front of the arena, protesters started to move again, still forming their wall as they weaved around the corner and back to public square.