‘He’s the real rat’: Hundreds protest Trump’s arrival in Baltimore

Hundreds of anti-racist protesters gathered in Baltimore on Sept. 12 anticipating the arrival of Donald Trump, to say no to racism, white supremacy, bigotry, war and climate change. Protestors chanted “Trump is the real rat!” and “Immigrants are welcome here!”

The protest and rally was organized by the Peoples Power Assembly, ICE Out of Baltimore, Youth Against War and Racism and the Prisoners Solidarity Committee. It was part of a series of actions to oppose the Republican Party retreat, including a climate change protest, a labor sing-along and an LGBTQ2S dance on the promenade. 

Protesters began gathering at 4 p.m. in Columbus Park, the closest available assembly point to the Marriott Hotel at Eastern Avenue and Pratt Street, site of the GOP retreat.  

Earlier, a small group of right-wing Trump supporters attempted to stake hundreds of crosses in the area where the protest was called. They claimed that they were doing it to keep children off the grassy area. Protest organizers had arrived much earlier and prevented them from erecting the crosses.

When Trump finally arrived by helicopter after 6 p.m., he was taken by motorcade to the Marriott. He scurried past protesters in the lightning-fast caravan to screams and shouts of “Rats out of Baltimore!” and “Shame, shame!” There was also a giant Trump-rat balloon and tons of signs and banners on display.

The rally was opened by co-chairs Andre Powell, Miranda Bachman and Emilia Duno, who represented the Peoples Power Assembly, Youth Against War and Racism and ICE Out of Baltimore respectively. They began by denouncing the park’s statue of Christopher Columbus and called for removing this monument to genocide and racism against Indigenous people.

The group purposely set up their rally and protest as far away from the statue as possible to distance themselves from everything it stands for. They also urged people to support replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Maria Cella was the first speaker. This activist recently moved to Baltimore from San Diego, where she helped organize caravans to assist refugees stranded in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sharon Black, an organizer with the Peoples Power Assembly and a representative of Struggle-La Lucha newspaper and Partido Socialista por la Unidad/Socialist Unity Party, announced: “We called this demonstration because the people need solidarity and unity. We have to stand in solidarity because it’s our weapon against racism and white supremacy. 

“Trump called Baltimore ‘rat-infested’ to hide the reality of who destroyed Baltimore City. I have lived here for 40 years. I know what’s happened to our city. The same banks that support Trump are the ones that are responsible for the foreclosure crisis, which was one of the biggest crises that struck majority-Black cities like Baltimore and Detroit. It’s really about taking the wealth out of the Black community,” she said.

At the rally, Alec Summerfield, representing the Prisoners Solidarity Committee, declared to an enthusiastic crowd: “Does Donald Trump care about Freddie Gray? Does he care about Eric Garner? Does he care about Sandra Bland? Does he care about Korryn Gaines? No, no, no! 

“He cares about himself and his profit margins, and his big bank and business buddies like Steve Menuchin and Mike Pompeo.”

The Rev. Cortly D. Witherspoon, a longtime advocate of civil rights in Baltimore City, energized the crowd with his message. “I had to come here and bring my son because when trouble and tribulations come, the people of Baltimore come together. An injury to one is an injury to all. 

“Donald Trump has attempted to spew racism and division. A people united will never, ever be defeated. We won’t allow ourselves to be divided,” Witherspoon vowed.

“We understand that Donald Trump is not just an individual,” he continued. “He represents a system, so it’s not just about getting rid of Trump, it’s about getting rid of fascism and racism and bigotry and sexism in the United States. And so we come standing side by side and shoulder to shoulder, and we ain’t gonna let no Donald Trump, or no racist, fascist system turn us around. 

“Baltimore was the wrong target. Trump should have selected a less organized city and a less passionate city, because we are going to fight the good fight here in Baltimore,” Witherspoon concluded.

Other speakers included Abraham Tena from CASA in Action, whose delegation brought a giant “Abolish ICE” display; Emilia Duno from ICE Out of Baltimore, which has been organizing to shut down detention camps; Miranda Bachman from Youth Against War and Racism, who defended Palestine; Rafiki Morris from Maryland Council of Elders, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) and Communities United; Ian Schlakman from Maryland Green Party; and representatives of Extinction Rebellion.