At noon on the Fourth of July, 2017, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sponsored a teach-in and rally at the fifth floor atrium of the “hideous” Trump Tower. Later they would chant “Whose tower? OUR tower!” The hashtag was #TakeTrumpTower. The atrium is a public space, open to all, year-round.
“We Will Not Be Banned: The broken promise of equal justice” Hosted by CAIR-New York
“CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
Speakers and partners included NY Day of Remembrance Committee, Jewish social justice contingent (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jews Say No!, Jewish Voice for Peace) NY Civil Liberties Union, LatinoJustice, and T’ruah.
The premise of the event was that the United States has repeatedly broken her founding principles and targeted groups for persecution on the basis of race, religion, and ideology.
The speakers insisted their communities have historically been targeted — from the US’ internment of Americans of Japanese descent during the second World War, to the US’ treatment of Puerto Rico, to President Trump’s ban on terrorists. CAIR-NY and their social-justice partners used this day to reaffirm their commitment to that most “basic American tenet, ‘ALL are created equal.’” The list of participating organizations was long:
America’s 241st Independence Day was marred by these protestors who claimed that President Trump stands in a long line of American leaders who sought political power by marginalizing and demonizing minority groups.
Read more for what went on inside and outside.
As noon approached, I arrived — looking for protestors.
11:55 — I saw barricades but no protestors: just empty pens. That was odd. Then I saw two women in front of the doors to the tower.
That, too, was odd, since a previous Trump Tower protest (on Aug 31, 2016) that blocked entry to the Tower created more crowd control at the entrance.
I guessed things had relaxed with time. And then I remembered that there is a public space in the Tower.
” … part of an agreement Trump made in the 1970s […] an agreement in which a developer receives special permissions from the city in exchange for the inclusion … of spaces open to the general public.“
The lefties have protested there previously, testing the limits of the right-to-assemble at such spaces. Once I actually read the sign the women were holding, with directions to the event, I headed inside.
I went through security and had my bags and camera screened. I rode the elevator to the fifth floor with the Fox5 cameraman and the very friendly, Albert Fox Cahn, CAIR-NY’s Legal Director! Then, voila — the atrium…
The protestors had gathered for CAIR’s Independence Day press event.
There were familiar faces, like Donna Nevel of Jewish Voice For Peace.
Labor union Rabbi Michael Feinberg of Interfaith Worker Justice.
Seeing me, Nevel and Feinberg put out warnings to CAIR’s Mr. Albert Cahn, who seemed to regret his cheery greeting in the elevator. He was nervous, I guess, with the opposition in his — CAIR’s — very sacred — PUBLIC — space.
He asked me who was I with. What media did I represent? Another person wanted to know if I was a volunteer. Really? Come on, guys. The first thing I did was sign in as media. ALL are WELCOME here, right?
All proceeded normally, so it seemed, with cameras in place; waiting for the speakers. (2 pictures by David Moriya )
Video: Then the master of ceremonies made his welcoming speech. All was calm.
However, as soon as the first speaker of a slate of refugees and emigres began speaking, the Jewish Defense League began counter-protesting.
Turning their Saul Alinsky tactics back at them, the JDL caused palpitations amongst the lefties, who tried to discreetly scramble with their signs and banners to cover up the very mobile JDL flag and a Blue Line Flag.
The first speaker was “Poor William from Iran”. He spoke calmly and succinctly about why he fled Iran (he’s Jewish) and his uncertain status in the US. In the background, the JDL flag was very busy.
VIDEO – William from Iran
The Blue Line Flag stayed put in one corner. It was not easy to see, but that did not deter the lefties. They seemed more upset by this flag. So much for grateful patriotism. Of course, President Trump was a target of criticism.
I stayed for all the speakers. And SO DID THE JDL. CAIR asked the police to remove them. This request was refused. The public space was open to all. This side drama accounts for the nice little speech the MC made halfway through the event
“Let’s keep our eyes up here — at the podium. Ignore the protestors. They have a right to be here. This is America, but let’s focus on why we are here.”
MORE SPEAKERS in VIDEO Playlist:
Slide show of signs and banners:
Leaving the atrium, I was surprised to see educator Debbie Almontaser.
Almontaser is of the infamous Khalil Gibran Public School Madrassa and Intifada NYC T-shirt. I personally exposed in 2007. That makes me a bit unpopular with Ms. Almontasser. (Picture/link 2007)
Currently, Dr. Almontaser sits on Public Advocate Tish James’ Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Task Force to Combat Hate. Almontaser’s first step when leading a session is to create a community agreement about how to interact during the session. For example:
Approach others with respect
Don’t make identity-based assumptions
“Listen to learn”; use “generous listening”
Be aware of privilege and intersectionality
Assume good intentions
Don’t take it personally if someone says you’ve said something offensive
Debbie Almontaser was having fun sharing some very animated selfies.
The Green Hat fake legal team — standing at the door — looking lost next to real police.
And Patriots, who had been on the side and in the back, were now at the exit, continuing to speak their minds in SUPPORT of President Trump.
As the CAIR lefties tried to leave — smug with success — they had to walk through the reminder that WE WON, YOU LOST.
These malcontents who masquerade as patriots do not intend to fade away. These traitors have snookered people like Poor William from Iran into working with organizations like CAIR. They are committed to destroying America and democratic goverment.
We patriots have met their challenge.
We will not be silent. We have not forgotten. WE WON. YOU LOST.
All was not over, even outside the building. As I walked to the subway, about two dozen protesters marched past me to the Tower’s entrance on Fifth Avenue, yelling antifa chants.
Perhaps, now, THIS was :
… until next time.
[Where indicated, Pictures and Videos Property of Pamela Hall]