BRADENTON -- Junior Salazar stood in the Manatee County Central Library parking lot with a small group Thursday evening.
The 28-year-old's hands turned over a black T-shirt with a heart with the United States flag on the back, and another heart draped in flags from many other countries.
"United Nations Organization," the name of a nonpartisan group Salazar formed about a month ago, was printed on the back as well.
People trickled by the library to pick up duplicates of the shirt to wear for a march being held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday by United Nations Organization. The event will begin in front of the central library and end at the parking lot of the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office, 600 301 Blvd. W. No. 108, will include a voter registration drive, opportunities to speak with immigration lawyers and a performance by Aztec dancers.
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"Our focus is on the entire community at large because there is a lack of youth participation within the voting polls and, when I saw youth, I mean your 18 to about 27 crowd," Salazar said. "There's a lack in numbers when it comes to voting, so they have a very low voter turnout. ... That's what we're focusing on."
Salazar, who works as a community relations coordinator for the nonprofit OneBlood, said he created UNO to empower the community and provide awareness of the equal opportunities and rights in America. OneBlood provides blood to more than 200 hospital partners and patients throughout Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
The idea to create the group was also inspired by real estate developer and presidential candidate, Donald Trump, whose remarks on immigration, particularly among Mexicans, have caused controversy, he said.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us," Trump said during his June 16 announcement for presidential candidacy. "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
For Salazar, whose mother is Mexican-American and late father was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who later became a citizen, Trump awoke in people the need to become involved in politics.
"It's what really inspired me to say: 'You know what, we need to get people educated and get them informed about our political process,'" he said.
Thomas Whitaker Jr., a Bradenton resident who in 2014 asked what county commissioners were going to do to address concerns of undocumented immigrants being bused by Homeland Security officials to different areas of the country, said he supports Trump to a degree.
"I can't say that I would give carte blanche endorsement of any man's statements across the board except Jesus Christ," the 62-year-old said, adding he never received a response from county officials to hold a gathering to discuss the subject.
UNO member Laura Aguilar, 34, said she hopes the event educates many on the voting process.
"I think Trump is pretty much making it seem like we're not really helping society," Aguilar said. "We're trying to let him know that, just like the pope mentioned today. ... all our differences is what has made this country -- all the different cultures is what has made America stronger."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.