Tens of thousands of people rallied in U.S. East Coast cities on Sunday afternoon to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order that blocked entry into the country for travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. In New York, Washington and Boston, a second wave of demonstrations began after spontaneous rallies at many airports on Saturday, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began enforcing the president’s directive.
The order, which bars admission of Syrian refugees and suspends travel to the United States from Iraq, Iran, Sudan and four other countries, has led to the detention or deportation of hundreds of people arriving at U.S. airports.
One of the largest of Sunday’s protests took place at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, long a symbol of welcome to U.S. shores. The keynote speaker, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, told the crowd that the Trump order was un-American and ran counter to the country’s core values.
“What we are talking about here is life and death for so many people,” Schumer said. “I will not rest until these horrible orders are repealed.” In Washington, a throng that swelled to more than 2,000 by early afternoon gathered at Lafayette Square near the White House, chanting: “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”
At the same time, about 200 protesters chanted on Sunday afternoon at Dulles International Airport near Washington, where a much larger crowd staged a noisy demonstration on Saturday evening.
Seating and fences erected for crowd control during Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 kept protesters from a street directly in front of the White House.
Aria Grabowski, 30, of Washington, was carrying a sign that read: “Never again means never again for everyone.” Above the slogan was a photograph of Jewish refugees who fled Germany in 1939 on a ship, the St. Louis, that was turned away from Havana, Cuba, and forced to return to Europe. More than 250 people aboard the ship were eventually killed by the Nazis. “Everyone should have their human rights respected, regardless of nationality or religion,” Grabowski said.
Steve Barnes, 58, a law school administrator from Pennsylvania, arrived at the White House with a sign that read: “We are all Muslims.”
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“It hurts me to the core. I’ve spent years promoting the U.S. Constitution and now we’ve seen parts being challenged and that’s why I’m here,” Barnes said. Organizers estimated that more than 10,000 people were gathering at Boston’s Copley Square to hear speakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a vocal critic of Trump and a leader of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing. Rallies were also planned later on Sunday in other cities, including Houston, Detroit, St. Louis and Los Angeles.