Nearly 300 people took to New Haven’s streets Friday evening to rally and protest in response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The rally aimed to unify and connect members of the Elm City community so that they could work together in the future, said Jesus Morales-Sanchez, organizer with the community activism group Unidad Latina en Acción, which partnered with the Connecticut branch of the union Industrial Workers of the World and other groups to organize Friday’s event.
Called the New Haven General Strike, the event was planned as one-day strike followed by an evening march that began at 2 p.m. outside City Hall before moving upstairs to the aldermanic chambers for afternoon speeches by community leaders. Fifty people showed up at that time and the rest arrived throughout the afternoon before the 6 p.m. march.
“The rhetoric used by the now-president of the U.S., Trump was full of hatred,” said Morales-Sanchez. “We want people from all different communities to know each other and learn about each other.”
Though event organizers encouraged attendees to miss work, most arrived after work or left work early, Morales-Sanchez said. Many of ULA’s supporters already work overtime to cover their basic expenses and missing work would not be a viable option for them, Morales-Sanchez added, but explained that the organizers had asked attendees to skip work, as refusing to work is a powerful weapon for people to voice their political opinion.
Event attendees carried signs with slogans such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Hate Does Not Make America Great” and “Resist Hatred.”
Throughout the day’s events, organizers and attendees voiced concerns about the Dakota Access Pipeline, disability needs and immigrant rights.
“When [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] raids this city we need to shut the city down and block their trucks and everything they are going to use to deport people,” said Bernardo McLaughlin, a representative from the Connecticut IWW who spoke in the alder’s chambers about the need to build coalitions between unions and other activist groups.
Justin Farmer, a march attendee and student at Southern Connecticut State University, told the News he is worried that the “alt-right” has dominated political conversation in America as of late. Citizens must now get involved with politics to protest to unjust laws, he said.
Another attendee, who wished to remain anonymous because of his citizenship status, attended the march because he fears Trump will take away his protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy begun by the Obama administration that provides temporary protection from deportation to certain minors who immigrated illegally. He added that he arrived in the United States 18 years ago, earned a college degree and is currently employed, but is still not a citizen.
During the hour-and-a-half march, attendees shouted chants including “Say it loud. Say it clear. Immigrants are welcome here” and “Say it loud. Say it clear. Women are welcome here.” Police blocked off streets as the demonstrators walked down Whitney Avenue as well as Orange, Grange and Chapel streets on their way back towards the Green.
The march stopped at the corner of Church and Chapel streets for more speeches until the police asked attendees to keep moving. The marchers then walked through the traffic up Church Street, chanting “Out of the cars and into the streets.” People in some of the cars honked while others flashed thumbs-up.
The demonstration continued onto York Street and down Wall Street, stopping in front of Calhoun College before heading back to City Hall. The marchers chanted “Change the name” and “Out of the dorms, into the streets” outside the residential college. Some students joined the marchers while others watched from the sidewalk.
The event culminated in a party at the New Haven Peoples Center, a community center on Howe Avenue, at 8 p.m.
Correction, Jan. 24: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the street on which the New Haven Peoples Center is.