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BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court verdict endorsing President Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim countries was announced on June 26, New Yorkers converged on Downtown in response to an urgent call to action.
Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook: “BREAKING NEWS. We lost. Reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court just took the side of Trump and his white supremacist administration in the Muslim and refugee ban case. They decided in favor of xenophobia. Another dark stain on our country’s history. Meet me at Foley Square at 6pm.”
Thousands of activists and immigrant advocates answered the call, packing Foley Square, placards in hand, to protest Supreme Court’s 5–4 vote upholding the ban to travelers from seven countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea — most of which are predominantly Muslim.
Opponents argued that — based on Trump’s own statements — the ban against mostly Muslim-majority countries was intended as an unconstitutional ban targeting Muslims. But the Supreme Court majority ruled that the ban is based on geography rather than religion, and that it was within president’s authority.
Murad Awawdeh, of the New York Immigrant Coalition, one of the event’s organizers, opened the rally noting that the diverse crowd reflected what New York looks like, taking a stand for “rights of everyone who lives among us.”
The signs held up by the protesters reflected concerns of growing xenophobia, fascism, prejudice against minorities, and Islamophobia. In addition to pre-printed placard provided by the organizing groups with slogans such as “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids,” and “I [heart] Immigrant NY,” there were many homemade signs declaring things like “No Nazis in our White House,” “Ban Trump, not Muslims,” and one calling the president “Birther of a Nation,” referencing Trump’s conspiracy theory about his predecessor’s birthplace, and the notorious 1915 film glorifying the Ku Klux Klan.
One particularly erudite placard quoted from Justice Sotomayer’s dissent against the ruling, decrying “the government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy.”