Disappointment Over Haitian March Across Brooklyn Bridge

Protesters marching across the Brooklyn Bridge on the April 20 Day of Outrage rally. Photo by Margarette Tropnas/Facebook via The Haitian Times).

On April 20, Haitian community leaders organized a Day of Outrage march across the Brooklyn Bridge in hopes of recreating the “glory” of the historic march on the same day in 1990. At the time, more than 50,000 Haitians rallied against a federal policy classifying people from Haiti as an HIV/AIDS “risk” group and recommending they be banned from donating blood.

Nearly 20 years later, the community has new concerns to protest – a president calling their country a “shithole” and rescinding temporary protected status from more than 60,000 Haitians. This time, however, discord between organizers resulted in what appeared to be a march of hundreds across the bridge before those with Haitian Enforcement Against Racism (HEAR) and others with Haitian Leadership Forum (HLF) separated in opposite directions, as “mediator” Monalisa Ferrari told The Haitian Times.

The initial plan was for both groups to come together and leave from Grand Army Plaza, however in the end HLF decided to leave from Cadman Plaza.

“Everyone is disappointed,” Ferarri said, who describes herself as a “neutral party” in this.  “We have a lack for leadership that stems from everyone wanting to be the leader and no one wanting to follow. Given the way the community functions, it’s more for self, rather than the collective.”

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Ferrari also attributes the relatively little attention given to the march to a generational gap.

“There are transgenerational differences that impacted this,” Ferrari said. “The older generation feels like they own leadership, and everyone else has to take a seat back and listen. Real leaders groom other leaders. We need millennials to have a seat at the table.”

In speaking about the disconnect, another mediator said that “There is no Haitian community.” Read more from her at The Haitian Times, as well as more on the conflict and lack of fanfare surrounding the April 20 march.

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