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Protests to Ivanka Trump's CNY Visit Urge Pressure on Her Father over Immigration, School Support

Chris Bolt/WAER News

The visit of Ivanka Trump to the P-Tech program at Syracuse’s I-T-C school did not go unnoticed by demonstrators who wanted to protest immigration and education policy.  Rae Kramer was there to oppose Trump Administration border actions she calls cruel and racist.  And she believes Ms. Trump could persuade her father on the issue.

“I want to say to Ivanka, how would you feel if tomorrow someone in a uniform came and gently disengaged your child from your body and too that child away, without any guarantees of your being able to get that kid back or even knowing where the kid was.”

Jim Doherty taught many immigrant children at Nottingham, Fowler and other city schools.  He just wants to see more acceptance, based on his experience.

“…a blessing for me to work with those kids and the other kids, so gratifying.  I’ve been able to see the great desire they have in terms of becoming part of the American Dream.”

Doherty would Ms. Trump to tell her father to recognize their contributions.

“Education is extremely important to them.  The overwhelming, overwhelming majority have great work ethic.  I sincerely believe that we need them as much as they need us.”

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM
Some protestors targeted Ms. Trump specifically over what they see as hypocritical statements about America First

Another participant was Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins, who took issue with the location of the event.

“Ivanka Trump, you have no right to use our public schools as a prop when your father’s administration, in which you’re a senior adviser, is abusing children.  The family separations, tearing babies from their (parents), indefinite detentions in these military camps, forcibly deporting people without due process who have come to this country seeking asylum from violence at home.”

Hawkins and others further opposed education policies, they say have stripped protections from ethnic and gender minorities.  Ms. Trump joined John Katko in reviewing the school’s technical education program.  Katko is running for re-election against Dana Balter.


The 100-or-so protestors who demonstrated downtown during Ivanka Trump's visit Monday did not represent the first - or last - protest in the Syracuse area over any number of political, social or economic issues.  From the Women's March to the March for Our Lives to pickets and protests over immigration or the federal tax bill, people seem more ready than ever to take to the streets.  They are both challenging positions of elected leaders and sharing viewpoints with the greater public.

Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins believes the public protests can both solidify and change beliefs.  

"First of all I think they mobilize the base for progressive politics.  I think that's the thing they do best.  And then they bring to attention other people, who may be in the middle trying to figure out what's going on.  And they may ask themselves, 'well, why are these people so upset?' And they may listen."

He believes demonstrations can influence elections, especially among the undecided voters, who are likely to decide many elections.

Rae Kramer of Syracuse also participated in the protest over Ms. Trump's visit.  Rather than being antagonistic, she sees such actions as a way to debate important issues.

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM
Some say the variety of local protests over a range of issues can influence public opinion and elections.

"I think it's very important for people to see examples of non-violent dissent.  We all don't have to agree with each other, not by any means.  But we need to connect with each other in a non-violent way.  I think the public seeing this, it's a great example."  

School teacher Jim Doherty agrees.  Marches and protests are more communication than confrontation.

"So I personally do believe in keeping the dialogue open as much as possible.  Things change and political pendulums swing this way and that way.  but I think it's really, really critical for our neighbors, our family members, to see and hear from us in terms of our concerns."

Doherty acknowledges there are divisions in our societies, even in our families.  Protests and rallies locally and nationally can seem to augment those divisions.  But at least for those involved, they are a public and visceral way to keep - or force - dialogue on important issues of the day.  The impact of such public proclamations of points of view will become more evident as we continue into election season.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.