Sunset Park residents stand united.
In response to concerns many members of the neighborhood have expressed over President-elect Donald Trump, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca hosted a march called a “Day of Unity and Solidarity.”
The peaceful march, held on Sunday, November 20, that started on 44th Street and Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park and ended at 60th Street and Fifth, was highly attended as members from the community voiced concerns over how minorities have been treated since election night, as well as a message to stick together. Signs such as “Build love, not a wall,” were held by children.
“I believe that love is love,” said Menchaca before the march. “I believe in our immigrant community. I believe in the solidarity that I see in the faces of all of you today. And I believe that no matter what is to come, if we’re united like we are today in this cold, freezing moment, that it is our hearts that are going to be filled with hope and courage that are going to get us through the darkest times in front of us and that will melt anything that’s in front of us today.”
The day included a meet-and-greet with Menchaca, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of NYPD’s 72nd and 76th Precincts.
Menchaca had invited Sunset residents to join him at a Manhattan rally the week before, but felt that holding something local would unify the neighborhood. “A lot of people told us they felt unsafe going to Manhattan so we said let’s do something here,” he told this paper before the march. “So we’re going to give an opportunity for people to express themselves and there’s a lot of voice and expression that is ready to happen here and we want to give that space.”
Following the march, OLPH, 526 59th Street, played host to an afternoon of fun and games for kids. “We also want to create a space indoors for people to play soccer and a festival for the community,” Menchaca said. “One of the things we value so much in this neighborhood is family,” he went on, stressing that the goal had been to create “a family-friendly event for them to be together from all parts of them community.”
The event was also intended as a response to the bullying taking place in some schools. “I’m seeing bullying coming from schools that are not reporting it to their own administrators,” Menchaca said. “They’re talking about cafeteria workers, teachers bringing very distinct messages about deportation of kids, that are removing the feeling of safety in our classrooms. That is unacceptable and we shot out an email to the Department of Education demanding a response.”
Attendees seemed to enjoy the day. “Grateful to live in Sunset Park and march with 1,000 neighbors today,” said a participant via Twitter.