February 27, By Christian Murray
Hundreds gathered at MacDonald Park Sunday to voice their contempt for President Donald Trump and his policies as well as to celebrate the diversity of Queens.
The rally, titled “Queens Stands Together,”was organized by the Queens Coalition for Solidarity, a grassroots group founded by Ethan Felder, a Forest Hills resident.
“This is a borough of families, faith and diversity,” Felder told the crowd of more than 200. Felder, who anticipated a crowd of about 50, said the idea for the rally was inspired by protests he had attended in Manhattan and that he wanted to spread the activist spirit to Queens.
“Diversity is our strength, it is not a pejorative,” he said, adding that Muslims, Jews, the LGBT community, the undocumented and minorities should not be the victims of hate. “These are dangerous times,” he said. “Our rights are too important. Our values are too important.”
The crowd, to his prompting, then chanted “Love not hate makes America great.”
The rally was one of several that have taken place across Queens since Trump took office. Many attendees claim that the new administration is using undocumented immigrants and other minority groups as scapegoats.
Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told the audience that the Trump administration wants people to think that diversity is the nation’s weakness. “We are here to say that our diversity is our strength and we will not be divided,” she said.
“Scapegoating communities for political expedience is suicide, it is destroying the very fabric of this country and making us less safe,” she said.
Mark Viverito said that it is important for different communities to come together and protect one another, whether it be the undocumented, Muslims, Jews or the LGBT community. “We have arrived at a moment where we need to go across communities, we can’t be in silos.”
The unity rally drew this neighborhood’s elected officials. Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Councilwoman Karen all delivered speeches denouncing Trump while praising the diversity of the borough. Melinda Katz, the Queens Borough president, also spoke.