NEW YORK (AP) - Protesters in President Donald Trump’s hometown chanted “shame!” when his name was mentioned and called for his ouster as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in sweltering heat on Saturday to denounce his policy of separating families of people caught crossing the border illegally.
There were calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and suggestions of hypocrisy among politicians who support Trump’s policies and stress family values.
There were celebrity marchers, including comedian Amy Schumer and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington, who said the country was in a “time of immense crisis,” and an Episcopal priest who declared Trump’s immigration policies were ungodly and un-American.
“It’s important for this administration to know that these policies that rip apart families - that treat people as less than human, like they’re vermin - are not the way of God,” said the Rev. Julie Hoplamazian, the rector of the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn. “They are not the law of love.”
Padma Lakshmi, the immigrant host of TV’s “Top Chef,” told protesters that the immigration fight was shaping up to be a defining moment for the country.
“Do we want to be a nation of humanity and compassion, or do we want to be a nation that is unfeeling or unjust?” said Lakshmi, who emigrated to the U.S. from India as a child. “This is not the future I want for my children, those children, or anyone’s children. That is why we’re here.”
Crowds gathered at a Manhattan park before heading across the bridge to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, near the federal courthouse, in 90-degree heat.
The crowd provided a refrain of “shame” as an organizer ran down a list of people marchers are blaming for the family separations. Among their targets: Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Customs and Border Protection and ICE.
One protester’s tongue-in-cheek sign argued that the “only acceptable ICE in law enforcement” was “Law and Order: SVU” star Ice-T.
Karthik Ganapathy of MoveOn, one of the organizers, said 30,000 people marched in New York City. Police said there were no arrests.
Drivers honked horns in support as protesters marched on the pedestrian walkway that’s suspended above the Brooklyn Bridge roadway. Some marchers had small children on their shoulders. Others wielded parasols as shields against the blistering sun.
“We’re living in a time of such immense crisis that we all have to be speaking out for each other,” Washington told The Associated Press. “You can no longer sit in your isolated bubble and say, ‘here’s the one problem that’s impacting me,’” she said. “We are all being attacked daily by this administration.”
Washington said Trump’s immigration policies were a “travesty” and a “gross violation of human rights” and called for the end of family detention and the swift reunification of children and their parents.
She said Trump’s rhetoric on the subject has echoed his attacks on other minority groups. “They’re coming after all of us,” Washington said. “If we fight for this democracy and our ability to have a voice and protect each other, then we might save each other.”
Hoplamazian, 39, said the Bible teaches that it is important “to stand up for those treated unjustly” and that Sessions committed “theological malpractice” when he used a snippet of verse to justify separating families.
“Jesus was a refugee,” said Hoplamazian. “The Bible is pretty clear from the beginning to the end that God asked people to stand with the foreigner, with the stranger.”
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