Gay Latino activist Jose Gutierrez was one of nearly a dozen speakers participating in a “Dump Trump” rally in downtown Washington on Thursday that was called to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
The protest took place on the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., next to the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion, which Trump’s real estate development company is converting into a luxury hotel under a government contract.
Some of the participants in the protest called for the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages the project, to cancel its contract with Trump and his company and to find another firm to develop the hotel. Others demanded only that the government remove a giant “Trump” billboard sign attached to scaffolding next to the building.
Gutierrez, who founded D.C.’s LGBT Latino History Project and the city’s LGBT Latino Pride organization, said he and many in the LGBT Latino community were in full solidarity with the national Latino community in expressing outrage over Trump’s remarks.
“I’m a Mexican gay man and I represent many people in the LGBT community who were offended by the statements by Mr. Donald Trump,” Gutierrez said during the protest.
“And the things that he said – that we are rapists, criminals and drug dealers – are not true,” he said. “We are a beautiful community and we are going to vote in the next election for president.”
On the day of the protest the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying it too was in solidarity with the growing number of prominent businesses that have severed ties with Trump in response to his remarks about Mexicans, which they view as anti-immigrant.
“The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce stands with our long time organizational partner the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and applauds NBC Universal and Macy’s for cutting ties with presidential hopeful Donald Trump over controversial comments he recently made about Mexican immigrants,” the statement says.
It was signed by the NGLCC’s co-founders, Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell.
“Macy’s and NBC’s decisions to disassociate with Trump represent corporate America at its finest,” the two said in the statement. “From our partnerships with over a third of Fortune 500 companies, we know that major corporations are often leaders in workplace, market and supply chain inclusion.”
Trump drew expressions of outrage by Latino advocacy groups and their supporters across the country when he made his controversial remarks last month during a speech announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” he said. “When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best…They’re sending people with lots of problems…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said. “And some, I assume, are good people.”
Others who spoke at the protest included D.C. shadow U.S. House member Franklin Garcia, who was the lead organizer of the event; D.C. shadow senators Paul Strauss and Michael D. Brown; D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large); Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin and Maryland State Dels. Ana Sol Gutierrez and Joseline Pena-Melnyk; Arlington County Board member J. Walter Tejada; and D.C. Latino Caucus President Gabriela Mossi.
Strauss, an attorney, called on the federal government to remove the sign with Trump’s name from the side of the building where the hotel is scheduled to open in early 2017.
“This isn’t a private hotel that Mr. Trump operates,” said Strauss. “This is not land that he bought or a building that he constructed. He is a federal contractor who won a bid and is working for the federal government.”
Strauss added: “We wouldn’t allow a Confederate flag up there. So why are we allowing this logo, which Mr. Trump himself is associated with insensitive racist hate speech?”
Raskin, a Democrat who’s running for the Maryland congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, called on the Republican Party to disassociate itself from Trump.
“I said the GOP used to stand for the Grand Old Party and now it stands for grumpy old paranoids,” Raskin said. “And Trump is really disgracing the entire Republican Party and I think they need to dissociate themselves rapidly from his nativistic and racist attitudes.”
Concerning efforts to oust Trump from the hotel project, a spokesperson for the General Services Administration told the Washington Post that Trump had not violated his lease for the Old Post Office building, suggesting there may not be legal grounds to remove Trump from the multi-million dollar project.
“We haven’t gotten any complaints,” the Post quoted GSA spokesperson Mafara Hobson as saying.