Trump protest (Gambit)

Protesters marched from Canal Street to the Convention Center where President Donald Trump was scheduled to appear Jan. 14. Protesters demanded an end to the federal shutdown and talks of a muti-billion dollar wall on the U.S.-Mexico. border.

A guillotine weaved between a crowd of 400 people marching to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Jan. 14 as President Donald Trump was scheduled to address the American Farm Bureau. The guillotine’s message: “Let them eat king cake.”

Trump’s appearance in New Orleans — his first as president, following a 2016 campaign rally at the Lakefront Airport — comes on the heels of reports that the president could divert funding for flood control projects in Louisiana to pay for his sought-after, multi-billion dollar border wall, a fight at the center of a budget deadlock that led to a federal shutdown, now in its 24th day.

Trump repeated calls for a border wall to a crowd inside the Convention Center, where conference attendees gave him a warm reception despite tariffs and the federal shutdown threatening domestic farm business.

With Trump threatening to declare a national emergency to secure funding for the wall, labor and immigration advocacy organizers declared a national emergency of their own — pointing to the irony of a shutdown over Trump’s assertion of a border crisis while potentially taking away funding for Louisiana’s ability to combat the next disaster.

The protest — organized by the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice and Peoples’ Assembly, among others — also combat Trump’s rhetoric around the wall, directed at immigrants painted as criminals illegally entering the country. Organizers wore reflective construction vests as a reminder of the Hispanic community that helped rebuild New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, and of the consequences of a poor government response to disasters.

“It’s kind of ridiculous to call what’s going on now an emergency,” said Santos Alvarado, a day laborer and organizer with the immigration and labor advocacy group Congress of Day Laborers. “The true emergencies are here, inside out country. In Puerto Rico, in Houston, in the Carolinas — those are emergencies. Many cities in the U.S. are suffering after natural disasters. That’s where the true emergencies are.”

Originally from Honduras, Alvarado has lived in the U.S. with “temporary protected status,” or TPS, giving him legal permission to live and work in the country, a status that the Trump administration has attempted to terminate as part of his sweeping anti-immigration policy.

“Hate,” Alvarado added, “is the real emergency.”

Nearby, Santos Canales held a poster with an outline of a border wall depicted as a graveyard, with a message to Trump written in Spanish underneath: “your racism is fear of equality.”

Another posterboard displayed “show us your taxes” — written in beads, adding to a Carnival-esque procession with miniature, bright orange Trump baby balloons bobbing above the crowd, anchored by a golden Napoleonic Trump sitting on an atomic bomb (a piece titled “Fat Man and Little Boy”) and a Swamp Thing-inspired three-piece sculpture declaring “Fuck all borders” and “The swamp is a sanctuary. Let refugees in.”

The march moved from the foot of Canal Street across from Harrah’s Casino, up Canal to Royal Street, turned left on St. Charles Avenue, then turned left on Julia Street toward the Convention Center — passing half a dozen large construction projects, from new hotels and condos to street repairs.

Construction workers shot thumbs up or whistled in support, or stared at their phone screens as they filmed the march, or leaned against scaffolding and watched. A woman danced in the doorway of Subway to show support and tourists gawked on sidewalks or joined in, clapping as the march passed them by. One construction worker on St. Charles Avenue offered a muted “make America great again.”

Gaynell Dumas, an organizer with New Orleans black labor advocates Stand With Dignity, said she also wants Trump’s visit to recognize the dire need for fair wages and housing among lower-income workers in the city. She said his manipulation of the media to depict a border compromised by “murderers, rapists and gang members” is “ludicrous.”

“It’s right-out wrong,” she said. “People coming to the states are seeking asylum. They need help. … We have communities of a lot of different races, the culture is beautiful, and we want to keep it that way. We’re uniting in solidarity for the benefit of all people.”

The federal shutdown, nearing a month-long Congressional standstill, has impacted more than 800,000 workers. Workers’ groups also rallied in solidarity with out-of-work employees, whose paychecks hinge on Trump’s passage of a federal budget agreement.

A banner leading the march read, "Trump's war on workers is the real emergency."

One person (who asked to go by “Donald Trump”) wore white briefs and a large American flag tie as they winced and stuck their face and blonde mop of a wig through a handheld guillotine — “a French solution for an American tyrant.”

Outside the Convention Center entrance, blocked by a fleet of New Orleans Police Department officers, organizers Arthur Clark and Malcolm Suber passed a megaphone to several speakers who voiced their support, from NAACP state president Mike McClanahan to rapper Bishop the Ghetto Priest, who brought a small speaker to blast a beat for his song.

“The constitution feel like mace in my eye,” he rapped. “They put Trump in the White House / he’s a hell of a guy.”