CLEVELAND — On Wednesday, a coalition of leftist groups, led by organizers from the Latinx group Mijente, raised a handmade wall—a series of long, spray-painted, cloth signs held aloft, stretching, in segments, several hundred (and maybe thousands) of feet across—in front of the Republican National Convention. This made life very difficult for delegates trying to get in or out of the Quicken Loans Arena.
The demonstrators were there to protest not just Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, but the attendant rhetoric he has used to justify this ludicrous proposal.
Eva Cardenas, an activist with the non-profit Ruckus Society, explained that the idea was to build a symbolic wall around the presumptive Republican nominee. “We’re giving Trump his wall,” Cardenas said at an earlier press conference, as demonstrators gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square. “This is a message to anyone who would use xenophobia as a means to power.”
An unfriendly reporter whose initial question regarding “illegal immigrants” not paying taxes was summarily dismissed asked Cardenas whether she was worried about protestors being arrested. “We’re more concerned about people not stepping up to stop Trump,” she snapped.
Father Jose Landaverde stood to the side, looking on quietly. “The United States does not belong to any particular ethnicity,” he told Gawker. “We are all immigrants.”
“Trump,” the priest said, “is a heretic.”
Eventually, the demonstration marched the short distance from the public square to the Quicken Loans Arena. Delegates hurried to get wherever they were going. “We are here, and we’re not leaving,” an older woman cried into a megaphone. “And if they send us away, we’re coming back.”
“Undocumented, unafraid!” the people chanted. “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” Members of Food Not Bombs handed out cups of water and orange slices.
Most of the media, protestors, and police were clustered in front of the entrance to the convention area, but activists sweating and shouting in the sun held up the wall farther down the block, away from the crush before the police checkpoint. “Politicians only care about immigration when it’s time for an election,” Huelmely Dejesus, an activist with United We Dream, told Gawker. “Obama is the deporter-in-chief. Promises that were made have not been fulfilled. This is about holding them all accountable.”
An organizer with Mijente told Gawker to “keep an eye out” for similar actions at the DNC in Philadelphia next week.
Only one Trump supporter appeared to have made any kind of effort at a counter-demonstration. Janine Wilson, from Des Moines, Iowa, held her own sign aloft: “Build the Wall!” it read. “I’m out here all by myself, apparently,” she said.
“I don’t think that they’re bad people,” Wilson told Gawker, referring to the protestors. “I just think they’re wrong. We need to be protected.” From who? “From terrorists. From criminals. They’re just coming over the border.”
Meanwhile, this idiot looked very pleased with himself: