Hours before Donald Trump appeared on Saturday Night Live, a group of protesters marched from the sidewalk in front of Tump Tower down Fifth Avenue to the doors of NBC Universal Studios.
The Marcha to End the Hate began with modest numbers, but the crowd swelled to more than 200 by the time the group settled in at NBC. Organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens, the ANSWER Coalition and others, the rally was the latest in a string of demonstrations against NBC condoning the Republican presidential candidate’s comments about undocumented immigrants.
“America needs to know that racism is not funny,” said student Maribel Villarreal, 21, who traveled to the rally from Washington, D.C., as she handed out signs that said “SNL Stop the Hate” and “Basta Trump.” “We need to stop the hate because it’s not a joke. It should not be tolerated in any part of society.”
Around her, chants in both Spanish and English broke out, with people shouting, “The people united will never be divided” and “SNL, escucha, estamos in la lucha.” Around 6:30 p.m., the group began the march — falling in line behind a large banner and eliciting a few honks of support from passing traffic.
As Graciela Pichardo, 26, gathered email addresses for the ANSWER Coalition mailing list, she said she knew it was unlikely the march would succeed in persuading NBC to cancel the broadcast.
“It’s still worthwhile,” said Pichardo, who lives in New York. “Just because injustices are going to keep happening doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say something.”
Opposition to the hosting gig began as soon as NBC announced it last month. Critics argued that giving Trump—who said at his campaign launch that many undocumented immigrants are rapists—such a prominent platform was tantamount to endorsing his views. NBC had already cut ties with Trump over his show “The Apprentice.”
The controversy grew, too, with some activists pointing to Saturday Night Live‘s low number of hosts and cast members who are Latino.
Colorado State University Professor Nick Marx, who edited the book Saturday Night Live and American TV, told TIME that the protests took on an outsized importance due to the show’s iconic status.
“For some reason, SNL is emblematic for us still,” he said. “We still expect it to represent us more closely than the shows on Comedy Central or others in the lineup on NBC.”
Brent Wilkes, head of the League of United Latin American Citizens, echoed that line of thought during his remarks.
“Allowing Trump to host Saturday Night Live, a storied comedy show, is nothing short of a slap in the face for more than 57 million Latinos living in the US whose only wish is the opportunity to work hard, provide for their families, and live the American dream,” he said.
Wilkes’ words from the podium were briefly drowned out by the protesters behind him, as the repeated cheer of “Live from New York! A racist piece of s—!” rose in volume.
The Trump campaign and NBC Universal declined to comment about the march.
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