The Anti-Police Brutality Group Incited a Counter Protest
By Marcus Del Valle
A CSI club and activist group received push back from Staten Islanders and, allegedly, police officers on April 17 as the group protested a fundraiser for presidential candidate Donald Trump held in the borough’s Hilton Hotel.
Staten Islanders Against Racism and Police Brutality (SIARAPB) members were greeted by Trump supporters who organized an opposition protest. The demonstrators held signs and chanted “White Lives Matter.” The Pro-Trump advocates organized after the Staten Island Advance published that the student organization was planning a demonstration.
“We need a wall, we need a secure border,” said one Trump supporter. “I lock my door at night at my home, this is my home so I want my door locked.”
SIARAPB posted their plans on Facebook. A day later, on April 13, the group started to receive hateful comments from Staten Islanders.
SIARAPB President Krystal Sanchez said that the group was not deterred and felt that it was important to voice opposition to the Trump phenomenon.
“Hate is growing because of Donald Trump,” said Sanchez. “It only took one day for us to receive bigoted and racist comments all over our event posting.”
There was a significant police presence on the scene.
The streets leading to the entrance of the event were blocked off on both sides. Protesters and supporters were kept a safe distance apart via guard rails.
One protester named Maribel, a Mexican woman attending the anti-Trump rally with her daughter, said that police offered her misinformation.
According to Maribel, NYPD officers told her that she should demonstrate next to the entrance of the Hilton and hold her signs up there.
This raised questions about police motivations within the group as the Hilton is private property and a protest of this sort would be cause for arrest.
Members of SIARAPB identified the policeman’s action as a form of entrapment.
An NYPD spokesman didn’t immediately respond to the Banner for a request for comment.
Police presence was spread out a few blocks away from the protest location, with officers at all corners of the streets.
Several protesters accused police of giving them incorrect directions.
On the scene, members from both sides were chanting rally calls for their cause, some more aggressive than others.
When several Hispanic protesters joined in with SIARAPB, the pro-Trump rally goers chimed in: “America’s full! Go home!”
Pro-Trump advocates followed this by rallying together shouting in unison, repeatedly “Build that wall! Build that wall!”
SIARAP shot back with chants such as “Stop racist deportation,” followed by “Working people have no nation!”
Over the course of the protest, agitations grew when a pro-Trump supporter mooned the crowd of protesters.
Police did not catch this, so complaints of the action did not go far.
Members of SIARAPB began to call towards the group, “Build the wall around Bigots! Make them pay for it!”
The Staten Island Advance published an article on April 13th, just days before the protest, where they quoted City Councilman Joe Borelli, a co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign.
“This just adds to the narrative that the extreme left no longer stands for free speech and only seeks to disrupt, denounce, and intimidate,” Borrelli told the Advance.
SIARAPB’s Facebook page posts of internet meme’s comparing Trump supporters to KKK members was said to be the motivation for this statement.
Response from the community of Staten Island accelerated when the article was posted, accusing the group of being racist themselves and ignorant themselves.
Sanchez did say that club members were on the fence of attending or not due to the online attacks.
“Many members were scared to attend. A Biker Gang and another group threatened to hurt us if we showed up,” said Sanchez. “Others were scared to show up because of bad press but we still came out strong.”
The anti-Trump rally drew larger numbers than the pro-Trump camp.
When asked what she took away from the experience Sanchez stated, “The other side made a lot of assumptions about us and I learned that it’s not good to do that. As a largely student and teacher group we hope to use knowledge and passion to fight against hate and make a difference.”