"@lizdahlem Huge crowd at rally held by NYC community leaders against @realDonaldTrump. @fox5ny "
NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of New York City elected officials, clergy members and activists rallied against Donald Trump on Wednesday, decrying the Republican presidential frontrunner's "hateful" rhetoric and plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who organized the rally on the steps of City Hall, declared that Trump's proposed ban was "xenophobic and racist."
"There is nothing left to say about Donald Trump other than that he is a disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president, period," said Mark-Viverito, who previously announced her support for Hillary Clinton for president.
In yet another testament to the ability of the Trump brand to draw a crowd, dozens of TV news cameras documented the rally, arguably the largest media turnout for any event at New York City Hall this year. Speaker after speaker stepped to the microphone to bash Trump, a native New Yorker who keeps his primary residence and office in Manhattan.
"He built his wealth off the back of New Yorkers, and we will not stand for that," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "If Donald wants to come after our Muslim brothers or anyone else, he will have to contend with all of us."
Citing fears of terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris and California, Trump earlier this week proposed blocking any Muslim immigrant or tourist from entering the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Imam Khalid Latif, one of several religious leaders who spoke, said the candidate's remarks were "symptoms of bigotry" the nation must confront.
"I am embarrassed that Donald Trump grew up in the borough of Queens," said Queens councilman Barry Grodenchik.
Mayor Bill de Blasio did not attend the rally, though he has repeatedly criticized Trump in the past. The lone Muslim of the 51-member City Council, Daneek Miller, attended the news conference but none of the legislative body's three Republicans did.
Trump hit back hours later, criticizing Mark-Viverito for associating "with Mayor de Blasio, widely considered the worst mayor in the United States."
"Perhaps she should focus on taking care of the filthy conditions of New York City (and) the ever expanding homeless population," Trump said in a statement.
Trump also had some support at the rally. A single counter-demonstrator stood on City Hall plaza holding a sign that read "Keep Syrians Out." And at one point a woman from the crowd interrupted Mark-Viverito by repeatedly shouting "Long Live Donald Trump!" before being asked to leave by security.