'Day without Hispanics' in Grand Rapids ends in large protest

Feb 17, 2017

After multiple Grand Rapids Latino run businesses shut down Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, an estimated 2000 protestors marched down Division Avenue on Grand Rapids south side Thursday evening to cap off the city’s “Day without Hispanics.” Catching up with her in full stride, Co-Organizer Allison Kohlberg says the march was all about Latinos getting the respect that they deserve for what they do for the community.

“Immigrant people who came to this country just like my grandparents are being treated like they are not human, and they are being demonized for the color of their skin," Kohlberg said. "But they are the workers in this country, they are doing the dirty jobs that no one else wants, and all they want is dignity, respect and protection for them and their families—just like everyone else so I am here to support them.”

Octavio Reyes of Grand Rapids radio station La Poderosa 93.3 agrees.

“We are here because we want respect, we pay taxes, and all of the laws are not fair for us,” he said. 

The Day without Hispanics in Grand Rapids was part of a larger nationwide protest as simultaneously protests occurred all over the country in a nationwide “Day without immigrants.” 17 year old Ida Enriquez says she personally takes offense to Trump’s signature catchphrase.

“I want this to say that America is already great with immigrants here,” she said.    

Since Donald Trump took office, protests in Grand Rapids and nationwide have occurred at an unprescented rate in recent history. While Thursday’s demonstration in Grand Rapids drew a large crowd, the protest was somewhat a dry run. An immigration demonstration is in the works for May 1st that could be ten times in size.