Saturday, Feb.4—For the ninth day in a row, spontaneous demonstrations against Trump’s “Muslim ban” are going on all over the country, as well as in London, Paris, Jakarta, Australia, and elsewhere. Protests are continuing in spite of a new federal court order issued last night, staying the ban from effectiveness (temporarily). Trump immediately denigrated the judge and constitutional law; it looked like he would not comply with the order, creating a constitutional crisis. But he backed down–the State Department has just re-instated the 60,000 visas that it had revoked when the ban was issued. That has not stopped the protests from growing.
It is now two weeks since Trump came to power, but it feels like forever that we have been furiously demonstrating against him. Every day there are more rallies and marches and airport pray-ins against the ban on travel to the US from seven Muslim countries and the entry of refugees. The same protesters condemn the Mexican wall, our threatened losses of social welfare and reproductive, health, educational, environmental and constitutional rights. College campuses are not only holding rallies in support of foreign students who can’t get back to the U.S. for the new semester, students are also, literally, fighting and expelling alt-right speakers, from U. Cal Berkeley to New York University. Employers such as Harley-Davidson are un-inviting Trump from visiting their factories for fear of protests. Even cultural events are permeated with anti-Trump messages, including the august New York City Ballet. And people in the “heartland” who are about to lose their health insurance are now protesting too—including people who voted for Trump without understanding that the Republican promise to “repeal Obamacare” meant losing their own health insurance life-lines. Trump is also rushing to repeal anti-discrimination measures and the regulation of business and finance.
Rally in NYC Wednesday
Since Trump imposed the “Muslim Ban” last week, there have been daily protests by thousands throughout New York City. On Feb. 1, MHI attended a rally and march at the Federal Building in Manhattan to demand “no ban, no wall.” Called by Syria Solidarity New York City and CISPOS-NYC: Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria, the rally of several thousand people included many Middle Eastern, Muslim, Latino, immigrants’ rights, student and Jewish groups, as well as two large trade unions.
The signs and speakers declared, “We are all Muslims now!”, “Never again!” (a reference to the holocaust during World War II, when the U.S. refused to take in Jewish refugees from Europe, sending them back to their deaths), “Ban Bannon, not immigrants,” “Borders are imaginary—people are real.” Many signs simply declared that the person carrying it was an immigrant, or her mother was one, or her grandmother.
Syrian speakers explained that the refugees are not terrorists—they are fleeing terror. Thousands are waiting for asylum in countries bordering Syria; very few have been allowed in the U.S. Half the population of Syria has been displaced in the past 6 years of revolt against the dictatorship. Resisters are being killed every day so they have no choice but to flee or die.
One Syrian refugee woman said to the crowd, “Your support means that I and others did not make a mistake by coming here, even though we can be thrown out any day.” She and others expressed the agony of having their loved ones caught in limbo by the ban.
A man from the Yemeni-American community in Brooklyn announced that its ubiquitous shop keepers would close down the next day from noon to 8:00 p.m. to protest the ban: “to stand with our cousins in Yemen and people in other countries.” They did close, and held another massive rally in Brooklyn.
The Wednesday demonstration echoed the Jan. 21 Women’s Marches, calling for the defense of a large number of issues such as Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights, and now also condemning Trump’s anti-choice nominee for the Supreme Court. In spite of heavy police presence on Wednesday, one sign read, “Trump makes the laws, the NYPD enforces them,” probably a reference to the NYC police captain who recently declared he would not vigorously pursue cases of date rape. Other issues raised included the unpunished police shootings of Black men in New York. At least two signs called for starting a revolution!