Across the U.S.: ‘NO TO BIGOTRY’
Massive protests continue to sweep the country against the repressive and racist blitzkreig mounted by the Trump administration, most recently with an executive ban on entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Tens of thousands of people converged on airports in attempts to liberate immigrants and refugees being denied entry. Migrants and refugees are also being turned back at border crossings on land, like thousands of Haitians stranded at the Mexican border.
Perhaps as many as 100,000 people with legal visas have been refused re-entry to their homes, jobs and families in the U.S. Though a federal judge ordered the ban halted on Feb. 4, the Department of Homeland Security immediately announced it expected the Department of Justice to reinstate the ban with an “emergency motion.”
Meanwhile, 6 million to 8 million non-U.S. citizens may also face deportation under Trump’s anti-immigrant executive order, according to legal opinions in a Los Angeles Times’ Feb. 4 exposé. The new order is broadly constructed to allow immigration officials to detain almost anyone they “come into contact with” who has no legal documentation to cross into the U.S. Such “contact” would include tracking people who collect food stamps or their children who receive federally subsidized school lunches. David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, declared, “[The government is] going to round up everybody they can get their hands on.”
But masses of people coast to coast seem ready and determined to continue their own “emergency motions” to stop this rising tide of right-wing extremism and white supremacy. Here are reports from the front lines by Workers World and allied activists.
In the East
Thousands were out in Philadelphia on Feb. 4 for at least the sixth time since Trump’s inauguration. An appearance by Vice President Pence was the catalyst, drawing demonstrators to a six-block, heavily fortified perimeter where Pence spread his anti-people propaganda. Then, 300 to 400 people marched ten blocks to the “March for Humanity, #SanctuaryEverywhere” gathering near City Hall. The combined crowd of over 5,000 later marched back to the Pence location.
Participants’ political signs ranged widely. Some did not directly challenge capitalist democracy, like “Love Trumps hate” and “No president can ban love and tolerance.” Other signs promised more militant confrontation: “Resist fascism,” “Punch fascists,” “Vaughn prisoners: we hear you.”
The many homemade signs held by people from many different backgrounds affirmed the need for on-the-ground involvement to push protest demands and street actions into a movement that can challenge the whole rotten capitalist system.
In the South
Three hundred people converged at the Pensacola, Fla., International Airport on Jan. 29 against President Trump’s neo-fascist ban on immigration, despite the temporary halt on the ban. Chants of “Refugees are welcome here!” and “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” could be heard in every part of the airport as people came together to fight against fascism, racism and xenophobia.
One reporter asked, “Why is it still important you protest even though no refugees are being detained here?” This can best be answered with the Leninist rallying cry: “Workers and oppressed peoples and nations of the world, unite!” For there to be global liberation, international solidarity among workers must be considered and practiced. Solidarity is the path to world socialism and to stopping U.S. imperialism, colonialism and racism in other countries, as well as in this country.
In New Orleans on Jan. 20, Southern revolutionaries, organizers and activists shut down Canal Street, one of the the city’s busiest streets. The protest of Trump’s inauguration also shut down Magazine Street and Loyola Avenue. Over 1,000 people converged in New Orleans to protest fascism.
Throughout Virginia, protests from large urban metropolitan centers to rural communities have rejected Trump’s Islamophobia and his attacks on poor and working people.
A “No Ban, No Wall” demonstration was held Feb. 5 in Lynchburg, the site of Liberty University. Its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been asked by Trump to lead a federal task force to “reform” higher education. Organizer Nick Castanes noted, “When the people are united, neither politicians nor big money can defeat us! If it can happen in Lynchburg, this can happen anywhere. Keep up the resistance!” The Seven Hills Progressive Society sponsored the rally.
In Blacksburg, over 1,200 participated Jan. 30 in a “No Ban, No Wall Solidarity” rally where students from Virginia Tech led chants and marched through campus. Many long-time activists commented it was the largest protest they had ever seen there. Margaret Breslau, chair of the Coalition for Justice, said, “[I]t’s young people, it’s old people, it’s students, it’s community … it’s just touched everybody.”
In Roanoke on Jan. 30, over 100 attended a lunchtime solidarity rally with refugees, immigrants and the undocumented. An all-day “Refugees Are Welcome Here” solidarity protest took place on Feb. 1 at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. Additional protests rallied Feb. 2 at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke and at Washington and Lee University in Lexington. Others are in the planning stages. (For more information, go to tinyurl.com/jybpzpk.)
In the Midwest
Hundred of demonstrators gathered Feb. 1 outside the Department of Homeland Security offices in Chicago. Speakers urged rescission of Trump’s executive orders, release of all detainees in Chicago and across the country, and an end to all detentions and deportations. The Arab American Action Network convened the protest, which was supported by dozens of other organizations.
A “Rally to Defend Families and Democracy” took place on Feb. 4 in East Chicago, Ind., to demand “No Wall! No Ban!” and to unify this economically hard-hit region against the Trump administration’s racist agenda. The diverse crowd applauded speakers from Black Lives Matter-Gary, Asamblea Popular Nacional, Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self-Determination, and other local organizations. Workers World Party sent a delegation from Chicago, which met with organizers after the rally to plan further actions.
At the John Glenn International Airport on Jan. 29 in Columbus, Ohio, between 600 and 1,000 multinational participants marched a quarter mile to the airport terminal and staged a sit-in. The militant protest lasted three hours and targeted the Trump administration’s recent immigrant ban and proposed “wall.”
In Milwaukee on Jan. 31 there was a student-led protest called “Alto a la separación de familias! End the separation of families!” On Feb. 2, the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump rallied as “Milwaukee Trumps Hate” at the county courthouse. Demands included stop separating families, end the Muslim ban now, sanctuary city now, no more deportations, and indict and convict Sheriff Clarke.
The gathering was also a victory celebration of the coalition’s organizing against a Trump appearance scheduled for Feb. 2 at the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant in Menominee Falls. The expected mass turnout, especially of poor and working people, resulted in Trump cancelling his speech.
Over 1,000 people showed up Feb. 4 at a #NoBanNoWall picket at the office of Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in Janesville, Wis. Participants traveled from across Wisconsin and northern Illinois to build solidarity and show that the racist, anti-immigrant policies by the Trump administration can be stopped by the people.
Students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison rallied on Jan. 31 against growing right-wing U.S. extremism. They specifically targeted the founding of a local chapter of the American Freedom Party. The AFP, like all “alt-right” groups, is little more than a fascist gang. In 2005, the founder of the UW branch, Daniel Dropik, admitted in a court of law that he had burned historically Black churches in Milwaukee and Lansing, Mich.
The campus-based Student Coalition for Progress convened the demonstration, which included a number of community members. Speakers addressed the root causes of the “refugee crisis” — the bloody imperialist wars both U.S. capitalist parties have waged in the Middle East and North Africa. A wide array of organizations were represented, including Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization and Industrial Workers of the World. A Wisconsin Bail Out the People organizer and three supporters attended the event.
Speakers rejected Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s call to conduct criminal background checks on prospective students. All speakers stressed the need to build popular movements against the reactionary tide. Only a working-class movement, with leadership from representatives of oppressed nations, can put an end to the fascist groundswell.
In the West
In San Diego, Calif., over 2,500 people came to Terminal 2 at the city airport on Jan. 29 to protest “No ban! No wall!” Local residents were there who originated from all over the globe: Africa, the Caribbean, the Near and Middle East, Asia, Europe and all across the Americas. On this second day of protest, the crowd had swelled from about 1,000 the day before.
There was drumming, chanting and marching back and forth across the airport entrance. Cars circled while passengers held signs and drivers blew horns, expressing unity. The most repeated chant was “No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!” But another crowd favorite was “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” Now the question is “What’s next?”
Contributors to this article included Devin Cole, Josh Link, Joe Piette, Jeff Sorel, Gloria Verdieu, and Workers World Bureau members in Rockford, Ill., Milwaukee and Virginia.
For more on Wisconsin protests, go to facebook.com/MilwaukeeCoalition AgainstTrump, wibailoutpeople.org and facebook.com/wibailoutpeople.org.