They were Latino, black, U.S. citizens and the undocumented. They were LGBTQIA and people with disabilities. They were white allies and women, immigrants of all nationalities. They were of no religion and they were Muslim.
And at a protest that marched from City Hall and through downtown New Haven, they were all welcome.
As one activist put it Friday afternoon, a political campaign season filled with racism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, sexism and ableism had one positive effect: It brought people out of the silos of their individual causes and brought them all together.
More than 100 people turned out to City Hall on the same day as the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump for a general strike against the incoming administration. Participants were encouraged to stay home from work and school in protest to demonstrate that the very communities that were singled out for derision in the recent presidential election also make valuable contributions to the United States too.
The strike was sponsored by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA), Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Amistad Catholic Worker, Junta for Progressive Action, Families and Friends, ANSWER Coalition, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Brother’s Keeper, the Connecticut Bail Fund, the Green Party, and the Connecticut membership of the Industrial Workers of the World.
John Lugo of ULA said it was time for all of the different groups to get to know each other so that they could work on ways to support one another and resist the current administration.
“It’s time to start really knowing what’s going on with the African-American community, with the Muslims,” Lugo said. “To know what’s going on with their struggles.”
And to that end people of various backgrounds took to Church Street on a chilly evening around rush hour to chant their support for the communities they say are marginalized — communities of color, immigrant communities, women, LGBTQIA, and those with disabilities.
They called out their support for those groups as they marched past the shops and restaurants on Whitney Avenue, several of which boast food from China, Greece and France. Some people stepped out of the restaurants to see what all the noise was about, listening as the marchers chanted, “Muslims are welcome here.”
They turned on Trumbull Street and for several blocks, the protesters — many of which were not black — chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
Things got a little bit tense for the police escorting the marchers when they reached the busy intersection of Trumbull and Orange streets. A group of masked marchers headed toward the highway, urging their fellow marchers to “take the highway.”
But ultimately the marchers just blocked the intersection for about 10 minutes, much to the consternation of drivers, and then made their way up Orange Street, heading back toward City Hall.
Unlike some of the protests in the nation’s capital Friday, New Haven’s protest was peaceful and no one was arrested.