Latino leaders delivered over half a million signature Wednesdat evening urging NBCUniversal to rescind their invitation to Donald Trump to host Saturday Night Live this weekend.
NEW YORK – Pressure continued to mount on NBC to cancel Donald Trump's guest-host appearance on this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" as a coalition of advocacy groups delivered petitions to the network Wednesday calling for him to be dropped from the show.
The petitions delivered to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC and "Saturday Night Live," marked the latest attempts to dissuade the network from allowing the Republican presidential hopeful to host the show, with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda earlier asking that NBC reconsider the decision.
"There's mounting evidence that Donald Trump's racist demagoguery is resulting in real-world violence and physical and verbal intimidation," Mushed Zaheed, deputy political director of Credo Action, one of the participating groups, said in a statement.
By 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were more than 100 protesters outside of 30 Rock shouting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go," and, "when immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? We fight back."
"He shouldn't be allowed to use a popular platform like SNL, that brings comedy to everyone's lives, to spread his negativity towards Latinos," said Karla Angulo, a 22-year-old intern at LULAC and a Mexican American. "He's not a comedian who is saying something risky just to get laughs. He is a politician who is running for president."
Trump drew fire early in his campaign when, as the billionaire developer announced his candidacy, he described some Mexicans who are in the United States illegally as criminals and rapists, prompting NBC to sever its Miss Universe ties with Trump while declaring he would never again appear on "The Celebrity Apprentice." Trump has also said he would deport all undocumented immigrants, a majority of whom are Latino, and allow only selected immigrants to come back in.
"It is shameful for 'SNL' and NBC to think that racism can be repackaged as comedy," said Juan Escalante, digital campaigns manager for America's Voice, another group participating in the coalition.
Other participating groups included the National Hispanic Media Coalition, MoveOn.org and National Council of La Raza. About two-dozen protesters were on hand as the petitions were delivered to NBC's midtown Manhattan offices. Some chanted "dump Trump" and carried signs bearing the same phrase.
The coalition is accusing NBC of reversing itself for the sake of a ratings windfall while granting Trump "a free national platform to bolster his racist and xenophobic campaign," Zaheed said.
Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said after delivering the petitions that the protest effort was not over. His group and others would use the days leading up to the broadcast to call on "SNL" sponsors to remove their commercials from Saturday's show, he said.
"Saturday Night Live is not a news entity, it is a pop culture giant, and should not be in the business of giving acceptance and legitimacy to the views of a racist extremist by having him host a program. To do so is insensitive and will contribute to the wave of bigotry he is creating," Nogales said on Wednesday night.
NBC declined comment on the petitions and did not immediately comment on the attempt to get ads pulled.
Asked about the opposition to his upcoming appearance while promoting his new book in New York on Tuesday, Trump said he was pleased to hear demonstrations were already underway.
"Look, I think they should demonstrate" he said. "Ratings will go even higher than they are going to be. It's going to be one of their highest-rated shows ever and they're very excited about it."
Asked specifically about the petition, he said: "It's only going to make it hotter."
Trump also repeated his frequent assertion that he has great relationship with Hispanics, with tens of thousands working for him over the years, he said.
That, however, was not the sentiment on Wednesday night outside of Rockefeller Center.
"By having Donald Trump on SNL it's a slap in the face for many immigrants," Kristal Cardiel, a LULAC protester, said.
Luis Cordero, a member of "A call to Action on Puerto Rico," joined the protest and said, "I have been a fan of SNL from the 70s, but now [my views] are different. I might not watch as much as I use to."
How Trump Became Host
In advance of the show, NBC released promotional spots featuring Trump that included one in which he refers to a Republican opponent, Ben Carson, as "a complete and total loser."
Saturday's appearance will be an "SNL" encore for Trump, who first hosted the show in April 2004, long before his entry into politics, as the breakout star of NBC's new competition show "The Apprentice."
He appeared on CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday, where anchor Chris Cuomo voiced surprise that NBC booked him.
"I thought you were at war with them," said Cuomo, "then all of a sudden they wanted to have you on. You say it's because of ratings."
"You're never at war when you get great ratings with a network, OK?" Trump replied. "Nobody gets ratings like me."
He went on to say that initially he was asked to do a single sketch on Saturday's show. Then "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels had second thoughts and asked Trump if he would host the entire 90-minute program. "And I said, 'You know what? I would.' Because it's an honor."
"Every single major politician in this country probably for 30 years has done 'Saturday Night Live' if they're invited," Trump added. "If they're invited."
NBC would not comment on whether any other presidential candidates are being considered to host "SNL."
Reporting by the Associated Press and Melissa Martinez.
Reporting by the Associated Press and Melissa Martinez.