A “solidarity rally” of around 60 people gathered in New York City, NY, on Friday against what its organizers described as a “racist” and “anti-LGBTQ political agenda” related to an alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett.
The event’s Facebook post characterized its mission:
JOIN us for a Solidarity Rally for #JussieSmollett and LGBTQ survivors of violence. Black LGBTQ communities, particularly black trans women, have been assaulted, murdered, and face violence every day. With the normalization of violence against queer people, fueled by a toxic racist and anti-LGBTQ political agenda, we must address the ongoing violence against our communities.
“We’re going to continue to resist. And we’re going to continue to love,” said Jason Walker, the rally’s lead organizer, at the event.
Walker added, “I want this rally today to be a message that people of color, if you’re gay, trans, gender non-conforming, bisexual, lesbians — we’re going to live our lives and that we’re going to be proud,” Walker told the crowd. “We’re going to continue to resist. And we’re going to continue to love.”
Walker also led a chant, “When queer communities are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back. When people of color are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
Some of the rally’s featured speakers linked President Donald Trump to the aforementioned alleged assault on Smollett.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote:
Beyond speaking out for Smollett and LGBTQ people of color, speakers primarily used their time to address what they described as a growing movement of violence against LGBTQ, black, and other marginalized communities under the current presidential administration. Several speakers directly pointed to President Donald Trump and both the language and policies as the fuel for the attack on Smollett.
Via statement to BET, Smollett’s family assessed the claimed attack on their relative as a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”
— BET (@BET) February 2, 2019
MSBNC’s Sharpton echoed Smollett’s family’s statement in describing the alleged violence as “racist” and “homophobic.”
Underlining the racist and homophobic assault of #JussieSmollett, we must continue to stand with him and we must continue to stand against all hate crimes. #NANSaturdayActionRally pic.twitter.com/wqG4i3hQaD
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) February 2, 2019
Smollett claims to have been assaulted in Chicago on Tuesday morning around 2 a.m. His manager told authorities he heard the attackers say, “This is MAGA country.”
Via statement to Essence, Smollett linked his claims — which he described as “100% factual” — to what he framed as a broader American pathology: “As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident.”