Hundreds of Angelenos attended a May Day rally in Los Angeles on Sunday wearing white t-shirts with large bold black and red letters that read “I’m a dealer,” embracing the anti-immigrant comments made by Donald Trump almost a year ago.
“Yes, we’re dealers. We’re dealers of change and Latino voters,” said Diana Colin, program director for the CHIRLA Action Fund, the political arm of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) that was founded in 1986 to advance the human rights of immigrant and refugees.
Last June, after Trump said Mexico sends rapists and drug dealers to the U.S., immigrants rights leaders in the city launched campaigns to harness anger in the community and turn it into new registered voters to fight Trump in the voting booth. The city of Los Angeles and the surrounding region has the highest concentration of Mexican immigrants in the U.S.
Now, 11 months after Trump made his racist comments against Mexican immigrants, a political group in Los Angeles wants to reclaim Trumps offensive characterizations.
At least 600 demonstrators who attended the May Day rallies in Los Angeles on Sunday wore the “I’m a dealer” t-shirts, handed out for free by the immigrant rights group CHIRLA Action Fund.
“I’m a dealer of change. I’m Latino and I vote,” reads the back of the shirt.
“We’re embracing Donald Trump’s words and using them against him,” Colin told Fusion shortly after the May Day rally ended in Los Angeles.
“The campaign is meant to turn ignorance around,” said Colin.
Colin’s group is also embracing Trump’s rhetoric to get eligible voters to commit to voting. “If you’re an eligible voter, the idea is you commit to voting,” said Colin. “If you can’t vote, we want people to commit to mobilizing their friends and neighbors to go to polls.”
So far the frustration with Trump seems to be compelling more Latinos to register to vote.
Latinos in California nearly doubled their rate of voter registrations in the first three months of the year compared to 2012, according to an analysis of government data by the Capitol Weekly, a publication published by UC Center Sacramento and the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. The same study found voters between the age of 25 and 30 have seen a 161% increase in voter registrations, nearly tripling the number of Democrats in the state.
Colin said the shirts handed out at the May Day rally were paid for by the organization. CHIRLA Action Fund also sells custom t-shirts online that tie provocative slogans with different profession. “I’m a killer…a killer of fires. I'm a fireman and I'm Latino," reads one of the t-shirts.
California holds its presidential primary on June 7, 2016.