Organizers hope to send strong message to Trump
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Taking their inspiration from the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a group of Bay Ridge residents will hold a protest march in their community on Jan. 16, the federal holiday that celebrates the life and achievements of the great civil rights leader.
The group Bay Ridge for Social Justice is sponsoring a March Against Hate to protest against hate crimes that members said have been on the rise since the election of President-elect Donald Trump.
The March Against Hate will begin at 1 p.m. at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge at 6807 Fifth Ave. and will proceed along Fifth Avenue from 68th Street to 80th Street. The protesters will then march to Salam Arabic Lutheran Church at 414 80th St., where there will be a post-march event featuring remarks by community leaders and civic activists.
“The march itself is our communication to Mr. Trump and all those who threaten violence against our neighbors. We will not be silent in the face of hate,” Danielle Bullock, a member of Bay Ridge for Social Justice, told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.
Bullock pointed out that a Dec. 5 report in the New York Observer cited NYPD statistics that found a shocking 115 percent jump in bias crimes since Trump’s election on Nov. 8. Hate crimes have increased against Jews, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community, she said.
Bullock said the group was horrified by the recent hate crime committed against Police Officer Aml Elsokary and her teenage son on a Bay Ridge street in which the suspect allegedly told the cop to "go back" to her own country.
Elsokary, who is Muslim, was wearing a hijab at the time of the attack, police said.
Elsokary, along with her 16-year-old son, was attacked on Ridge Blvd. and 67th Street on Dec. 3, according to police, who said a man yelled ethnic slurs at the cop when she tried to stop him from pushing her son.
The suspect, identified by police as Christopher Nelson, 36, was arrested the next day. He was charged with Menacing in the Second Degree, a felony.
“The focus of our march is to communicate the message that there is no place for hate in the Bay Ridge community, whether the hate be aimed at Muslims or any other group. We see an attack against one of us as an attack against all of us,” Bullock said.
In addition, the marchers are protesting against Trump’s often fiery rhetoric on the campaign tail, according to leaders of Bay Ridge for Social Justice.
“We are organizing to demonstrate that Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, women, people of color, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, workers and the environment do not represent the values of the Bay Ridge community. We reject the suggestion that we should wait until the next election to have our voices heard. We believe that it is urgent for the Bay Ridge community and for all oppressed people and defenders of human rights to organize and resist today,” the group said in a statement.
The fact that the protest will take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn’t a coincidence, according to Bullock. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an inspiration for our March Against Hate. His legacy of a united multiracial struggle for justice is the basis for this march and the vision for an inclusive and diverse Bay Ridge,” she told the Eagle.
The same group held a protest march last year on the King Holiday in response to an attack of a Muslim woman at a Bay Ridge bus stop.
“The organizers of this group are simply concerned neighbors and grassroots activists living in Bay Ridge,” Bullock said. “We have no political or religious affiliation. Any member of the community who would like to demonstrate their solidarity with us is welcome to attend the march and participate in future planning.”
For more information on the Jan. 16 protest march, contact Bay Ridge for Social Justice via email at [email protected].