In the snow, in the rain, in cold, breezy weather, people across the country gathered on Monday, Feb. 18 – President’s Day—to hold rallies against the President of the United States.
In a show of solidarity organized by the liberal group MoveOn.org, thousands of people united to claim “fake news” on Donald Trump’s border emergency declaration.
Los Angeles was no different. Approximately 300 people showed up for the “Fake National Emergency President’s Day Protest” on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
None were louder than Congresswomen Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro) and Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), both of whom spoke during the Monday rally.
“We’re protesting the president and what he’s trying to do. He’s telling lies, that there’s a crisis at the border, that there’s an emergency, there is no emergency. In Congress we’re going to stop what he’s doing,” Barragan said.
“This is a fake emergency. What is the real emergency in this country? The gun violence, the homelessness. Social injustices. We’re going to stop the president who is trying to destroy our democracy,” Barragan added.
Waters, a thorn in Trump’s side since he assumed power, also bashed the announcement.
“This president, who is supposed to be so patriotic, said ‘I’m going to create an emergency and I’m taking money away from the military, take it from DOD (Department of Defense), take money that would be used to deal with drugs in the military,’” Waters said.
“[Trump’s] going to declare this ‘so called emergency’ and going to build the wall. We are the ones who are supposed to be in charge of deciding which way the money is going. We vote on that. And this president does not care about the Constitution, he doesn’t understand it. And he’s trying to be a dictator and take over where the money is going, how it is spent.”
Waters was harassed at times by Sevag Demirjian, a Trump supporter who — wearing a Make American Great Again red hat and carrying a U.S. flag— tried to interrupt Waters as she spoke, standing right in front of her and the crowd.
“Every president tried building the wall, and he did it,” said Demirjian.
At one point he got too close to Waters and police escorted him away.
Other activists creating a bit of chaos at the event were a handful of Communist Party members who actually showed up to protest the Democratic Party, calling them guilty of “war crimes.” But like Demirjian, their attempted disruption didn’t last.
On Friday, Feb. 15, Trump announced he was declaring a national emergency in an effort to secure funding for his plan to build a wall at the US-Mexico border. This came after Congress refused to approve the amount of funding he was asking for the wall in the new federal budget.
Rather than force another government shutdown — like the one that lasted a record 35 days in December and January — Trump signed a budget deal Friday, and at the same time declared the national emergency which he claimed would allow him to divert $6 billion already assigned by Congress to the Pentagon and other departments for his much touted wall.
This would be added to the $1.35 billion approved for border security in the budget deal.
Those attending the LA rally did not hide their distrust and disgust.
“To say that the southern border is an area where people are going to come in [and] who are going to destroy this country is a dream, it’s a whim. He’s sick,” said Pancho Duarte, who attended the rally.
“If he wants his wall, he should pay for it. We’re going to pay to remove him,” said Donald Kronos, another protester.
“We know what this false national emergency means. It means he is circumventing the Constitution for a money grab,” rally organizer Jennipha-Lauren Nielsen told the crowd which, at times, was heard chanting “Emergency, racist wall, we are here to stop it all.”
Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), also called the emergency declaration “fake news” and a “ political stunt.”
“The real crisis here is Trump’s insane immigration policies that rip toddlers from their parents’ arms, jail boys and girls in desert camps, and tear-gas asylum seekers. Under Trump, a system that was already broken has become Kafkaesque and gratuitously cruel,” Salas said.
“President Trump is overreaching again with this latest move, and it is up to Congress to assert its power of the purse and reclaim its role as a check and balance against a tyrant.”