While GOP presidential hopefuls were straightening their red and blue ties getting ready for last night’s debate, about 200 people gathered down the hill from the Ronald Reagan Library to protest what they see as the “anti-immigrant” undertone of the GOP primary race.
“We’re looked at as contaminants to the American society,” said Eric Jimenez, a resident of Rosemead in L.A. County. “We are looked at as people that are criminals, that are lazy, that are involved in gangs, and that’s just not what we are.”
The demonstrators, many of whom traveled more than 50 miles from Central and South Los Angeles, represented a number of pro-labor and civil rights organizations, including the L.A. County Federation of Labor, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), CHIRLA, and UNITE HERE!, among others. Shouting “shame on Trump” and “the people united, will never be defeated,” the protesters battled the sun and even some counter-protesters, who questioned the rights of the demonstrators to be there at all.
“They come into this country illegally, which is a crime, and then they have the gall to come out on the streets,” Rob Ezzell, a resident of Paso Robles and devout Donald Trump supporter, said. “It’s really a disgrace.”
That anti-immigrant tone, directed in particular toward Latinos, continues to be a major focal point of Trump’s campaign. In past interviews and speeches, Trump has said that the Mexican government sends “people with a lot of problems” who are “bringing drugs” and “are rapists” to the US. He’s also called for mass deportations of “illegal immigrants” and the construction of a wall along the Mexican border.
Dora Posada, an organizer for the SEIU, said she was compelled to drive out to protest the debate because of Trump and the other candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“I have the right to be here,” Posada said. “I work here. I give my taxes to the government, so I don’t know why I [can’t] be here.”
Here are some more shots from the protest: