Ariel Rojas: ‘No More Violence’

 

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For the ultimate #NoMames, another Latino is assaulted by fervent, loyal Trump subservients. What’s mind boggling is there’s video footage proving it. At first audio pitch you’d think you’re about to enjoy a chanting match: USA! USA! But a second into the video, one of our own is dragged across the floor and violently pushed away.

Ariel Rojas is more than the protagonist of this shocking video gone viral, as the “Latino dragged across the floor by a Trump supporter.” He happens to be a strong activist for S.W.E.R. (Students Working for Equal Rights) and a senior student at Florida International University.

The jovial and brilliant Miami resident took 10 minutes to chat with me about the incident that has us scratching our foreheads.

Marlena Fitzpatrick: Oh my god! What a crazy scene! Let me start by asking: what does your organization stand for?

Ariel Rojas: So, my organization is the Students Working For Equal Rights here in Miami. Aside from protesting and taking action, we also do educational campaigns, legal services and “know your rights” clinics to undocumented youth. On Friday we met and had a debate whether we should participate or not at the #Trumpazo event. Our concern was if we’re giving Donald Trump more attention and more media, and is that going to benefit him or hurt him. But after discussion we realized there’s no way that we’d allow Trump to show up in our biggest immigrant community without resistance. We met with other organizations to discuss what our approach should be. We modeled our actions based on previous events, like infiltrating the event, holding up signs and chanting to disrupt his recent message. However, we usually get escorted out. This time around we were forced out.

MF: Basically, you infiltrated the event. Then not the security of the place but the actual attendees start bullying you?

AR: It was the crowd itself — not security, but regular everyday people.

MF: What triggered this commotion that has gone viral? You’re literally dragged on the floor by this menacing-looking man.

AR: We held up signs spelling e-q-u-a-l-i-t-y. Then we started chanting “equality.” Immediately, the guy in front of us grabbed the sign and started ripping apart the letters, which is pretty funny. It’s not a good look.

MF: So, a full-grown adult male takes a sign of one letter and rips it apart in a temper tantrum, and suddenly you’re being dragged on the floor into a hallway. What happened between the cardboard demise and your physical attack? This is crazy.

AR: After the letter is ripped apart, the crowd itself started pushing out. I have to say, when you’re in the middle of this, you’re not a hundred percent aware of your surroundings. There’s a lot of people and a lot of yelling. It is kind of like being in a mosh pit, but lighter.

MF: And there’s no good, real music. It’s Trump.

AR: I have to say Trump’s playlist was actually pretty good.

MF: [Laughter] I love that you are keeping a great sense of humor in the midst of it all.

AR: [Laughter] You have to keep it light. Anyways, they were approaching us and put us in headlocks. One girl was kicked in knee. It was very physical and violent. We made it a point not to resist and not hit back — you know, to keep things peaceful and as nonviolent as possible.

MF: I respect you all chose not to become physical and escalate the altercation.

AR: Yeah, one of the principles of nonviolent protesting is to not be violent. We stuck to it, and I am proud of everyone involved who managed to stay nonviolent and polite.

MF: Have you been contacted by Trump or his campaign officials to sort this issue out, to apologize?

AR: No, I have not.

MF: It ended there as if nothing happened?

AR: Actually, yeah. That’s exactly what happened.

MF: What’s next for S.W.E.R.?

AR: As of the next day we were in the streets of Little Havana registering people for their Deferred Action.

MF: It would be a missed opportunity if I don’t ask: what is your definition of a Latino Rebel?

AR: That’s a really strong question! To me, I define a Latino Rebel as someone who’s not ashamed to rise up for their culture and fight for others who are in that struggle.

MF: I wish you the best, and I demand Trump’s affiliates send a formal apology to your constituents. This is one true #NoMames.

***

Follow Marlena Fitzpatrick @MarlenaFitz.

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