The day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, Inland Empire residents rallied in San Bernardino and Ontario to call for an end to hate and to protest what they say will be policies that will harm large numbers of residents.
At the same time that people across the nation and beyond participated in rallies and marches to send a message to the new administration that policies will not go unchecked, the “Inland Resistance: United Against the Trump Agenda” event in Ontario drew a diverse crowd of about 200.
The groups included people concerned about Trump’s stand on various issues including immigration and the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. Members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, environmentalists and others participated in the event that started outside Ontario City Hall and concluded on the Euclid Avenue median on Euclid Avenue and F Street.
Groups from across the Inland Valley gathered to peacefully express their discontent with the Trump administration, said Ericka Flores, a community organizer with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.
The rally was also meant to call on the Ontario City Council to designate Ontario as a sanctuary city.
Sanctuary cities are those that adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants and don’t prosecute them for violating federal immigration laws.
If Ontario adopted the designation “it would be a model for surrounding cities in the Inland Valley,” Flores said before the start of the rally.
Zahian Vidal, 17, a senior at Upland High School, said she was brought to the United States 11 years ago from Mexico without proper immigration documents.
She applied and received relief through former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration policy.
She’s worried Trump will revoke DACA and she will lose her chance to attend college in addition to being at risk of being deported.
The situation she and other students like her are in is “a bit stressful and frustrating, but it motivates us a little more to keep fighting,” she said.
Rancho Cucamonga resident Marguerite Johnson is a home care worker who is a member of Service Employees International Union 2015. Two things were on her mind Saturday including Trump’s position on immigration, which reminds her of the days of segregation in the South, she said before the rally.
As an African-American living in Memphis, Tennessee, she was unable to drink from the same water fountain as whites, eat in the same restaurants or use the same restroom.
Focusing on immigrants and labeling Mexicans criminals isn’t right, Johnson said.
“We are all one people,” she said.
Another concern is the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.
Johnson cares for a grandson who is enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program, which covers his health care cost. If he loses his health insurance then the costs plus other related expenses will become financially overwhelming, she said.
“I’ll have to go live on the street with my grandson,” she said.
For Mary Valdemar of San Bernardino the Ontario event was the third such gathering she attended Saturday.
She attended San Bernardino’s Stand Against Hate Rally and another in Riverside before arriving in Ontario.
Valdemar said the Inland Empire has a number of problems that includes government corruption cases, air quality issues, a shortage of jobs and other concerns.
She believes these problems are going to increase under the Trump administration.
“If people don’t stand and use their voice and hold politicians accountable then it’s going to spread to the point of no return,” she said.
The San Bernardino event Valdemar attended Saturday morning drew about 80 people who gathered outside of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
Stand Against Hate Rally participants came together in support of educational programs including safe zones in schools where students of all backgrounds and regardless of immigration status can feel safe in school, they said.
San Bernardino City Unified Superintendent Dale Marsden said district leaders recently approved making all the district’s campuses safe zones.
But Marsden said all must be vigilant. The use of school vouchers, which is a concept supported by some members of Trump’s Cabinet, can hurt public schools, reducing the funds available for public education, and hurting students can “further divide the haves and the have nots.”
By coming together, families can fight in support of their families and community, San Bernardino City Unified board member Abigail Medina said.
“At the end of the day it’s all about unity,” she said.
Niki Chambers told the crowd Thursday night she cried because she knew Trump would become president on Friday.
“I needed this today,” said Chambers, president of the district’s African American Advisory Council.
“Today we are here together to show we are against hate and for love and for education,” she said drawing applause from the crowd.
Students should be able to receive a quality education regardless of race, immigration status or religious background, she said.
To ensure the access to education the public must be active.
“Apathy is no longer an option,” she said.