“Our president, embarrassingly enough, is a racist,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
Baraka and mayors from other towns in Essex County stood on the steps of Newark City Hall in unity against hatred. This in light of alleged comments made about Haiti and African countries in a closed door meeting in Washington.
“We are going to stand up for East Orange, Newark, Irvington and Orange,” said Mayor Ted Green of East Orange.
“Everybody on the planet is actually from Africa. If you’re not careful you’ll find out that denouncing Africa is like denouncing your mother,” said Baraka.
This rally comes days after Sen. Cory Booker vehemently criticized Trump’s Homeland Security secretary at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now,” said Booker.
One by one, youth representatives shared their personal stories.
“I will never apologize for being an African woman,” said one Rutgers Student Government member.
“Ironically enough, Trump choose to use his platform to discuss his hateful works and broadcast them the day right before the eight year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake,” said a Rutgers Haitian Student Association member. “Not only were these saying hurtful and offensive, but they hurt me in a way that was very indescribable.”
The president has said he never made those comments and several senators stand by his side.
“I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” said Trump.
Sen. Lindsey Graham also defended the president in a news interview when asked if he thought Trump is racist.
“Absolutely not. Let me tell you what, you can be dark as charcoal and lily white. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re nice to him. You could be the pope and criticize him, it doesn’t matter, he’ll go after the Pope. You can be Putin and say nice things and he’ll like you. Here’s what I found, he’s a street fighter,” said Graham.
“Together we stand, together we stand,” said Shakira McKnight, and advisor for Newark Youth Ambassadors.
Many at the rally also expressed support of unauthorized residents.
“Today, I pledge to work hard with my fellow mayors, my council members and other legislators across the state of New Jersey to urge Congress to find a more human and common sense solution to immigration reform. To find a way to keep families together,” said Green.
“Today, we stand here on the steps of City Hall in unity because Mayor Baraka made Newark a sanctuary city,” said McKnight.
But the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed the Department of Justice is, “reviewing what avenues might be available to bring criminal charges against state or local officials with sanctuary policies.”
“The context of this is of course not only putting my ICE officers at risk, but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws,” Nielsen said.