PI Original Ellyn Fortino Tuesday July 12th, 2016, 2:22pm

Illinoisans Protest Against Trump As He Visits Chicago To Fundraise (VIDEO)

A broad-based coalition of labor and advocacy groups railed against Donald Trump's "hateful" rhetoric Tuesday in Chicago as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee was in town for a pricey campaign fundraiser.

While Donald Trump was in Chicago Tuesday for a big-dollar campaign fundraising lunch, activists and elected officials were outside the presumptive GOP nominee's namesake tower downtown to denounce his "hateful" and "divisive" rhetoric.

Trump's Chicago fundraising visit followed comments he made about the city earlier in the day on Twitter: "Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse. Look what is going on in Chicago and our inner cities. No good!"

With the Trump International Hotel and Tower as their backdrop, several dozen people with a broad-based coalition of local community and labor groups pushed back on the presumptive Republican nominee during a morning press conference.

"We are here outside to send a very clear message that what this country needs in the midst of the frustration, in the midst of this pain, and in the midst of all the anger is a leader who will bring America together, and not divide us," said William McNary of Citizen Action/Illinois. "And Donald Trump's rhetoric, his demeanor and his policies make him unqualified and unfit to be the president of the United States."

Protesters toted signs with various slogans, including "Trump: Divider In Chief," "Tell Trump: It's Un-American To Ban Muslims" and "Tell Trump: Latinos Are Not 'Rapists And Criminals.'"

Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (7th District) and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza stood with representatives from Jewish, Muslim, disability, LGBT, immigrant and women advocacy groups.

"We do not welcome Donald Trump to Chicago," Garcia said. "We don't welcome him because of the hateful and divisive rhetoric that he represents. To elect him president of this country would be disastrous."

Trump's appearance in Chicago was his first campaign visit to the Windy City since March, when his planned rally at the UIC Pavilion was canceled for safety reasons after clashes broke out between his supporters and opponents.

Tickets for Trump's invite-only lunch fundraiser, reportedly held at the Trump Tower and hosted by Trump Victory Illinois finance chairman Ronald Gidwitz, ranged between $10,000 and $100,000. Trump was expected to raise $1 million from today's fundraiser, which comes ahead of next week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. 

During today's protest, Mendoza commented on Trump's plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Mendoza, who is running for Illinois comptroller, urged people to unite in building a "symbolic wall" between Trump and the White House.

"While I know that he talks about this crazy wall that he wants to build, I say that we all join forces and build this symbolic wall between him and the White House," she said. "And the best way we can do that is, instead of giving into any of this hateful rhetoric and divisive speech, is to love each other, to embrace each other ... And we march together to the polls to build that wall come November 8th that will keep him away from the White House."

Here's more from the press conference speakers, including Rami Nashashibi, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network:

In the early afternoon, student organizers with the environmental group NextGen Climate Illinois held a small protest outside Trump Tower. They carried signs reading, "Students Against Trump" and "Make America Green Again," a play on Trump's campaign catchphrase, "Make America Great Again."

NextGen Climate's Abby Johnson said Trump's environmental positions are concerning, particularly his support for abolishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

"We are talking about clean power, and that is something that's directly promoted through the EPA," she said. "Donald Trump plans to abolish the EPA once he's elected."

Johnson said Trump's energy proposals "would expand fossil fuel development and protect corporate polluters."

"His toxic rhetoric and his irresponsible positions around climate would permanently damage our future," she stressed. 

Meanwhile, a national LGBT rights organization is calling out Trump Tuesday for his lack of response to a comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill called the Equality Act.

The federal proposal, introduced last year, would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to existing federal anti-discrimination protections in the areas of employment, education, credit, housing, public services and space, federal funding and jury service. Under the Equality Act, existing federal civil rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would be amended to include these protections for LGBT people.

The Equality Forum, the nation's leading LGBT civil rights summit, asked Trump's campaign on June 14 for his position on the proposed legislation, but has yet to hear back. 

"By not responding to whether he supports or opposes the Equality Act, Mr. Trump lacks the backbone and appears to contradict his claim to be a better friend to the gay community than Mrs. Clinton," the Equality Forum's Executive Director Malcolm Lazin said in a statement today. "If these assumptions are inaccurate, we call on Mr. Trump to tell American voters whether he supports or opposes the Equality Act."

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