Protesters flooded New York’s Battery Park on Sunday for the second straight day of demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s executive order, which banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. More than 10,000 people made their way to lower Manhattan beginning in the early afternoon, according to the mayor’s office. Many of them carried signs and chanted slogans like “No ban, no wall.”
The demonstration was co-sponsored by local organizations Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition, among others. Several politicians from the tri-state area, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, turned out to support the march. Gillibrand, who has gained national attention in recent weeks for voting against almost all of Trump’s appointees, called the executive order a “mark of shame” for the United States.
Trump has defended the ban as a means to protect Americans from “foreign terrorist entry.” In a tweet Sunday, Trump said the U.S. needs stronger vetting. “Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world — a horrible mess!” he wrote.
The march followed a spontaneous Saturday protest at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which drew so many people that Terminal 4 was temporarily closed. Sunday’s demonstration drew crowds to lower Manhattan several hours before the official start time. Subway service into the Financial District slowed down as wall-to-wall lines of protesters waited to exit downtown stations.
The protest began with a rally in Battery Park, followed by a 1.5-mile march to Foley Square. Demonstrators made their way up Church St., taking up the entire width of the road, before turning down Worth St. The mood was serious, as protesters chanted “Build the wall; we’ll tear it down,” and the classic “this is what democracy looks like.”
Some of those marching came for personal reasons. “My aunt has a green card from Pakistan, and now she’s afraid of going back and forth,” said Ahsan Hameed, 28, a graduate student who was born in Pakistan. Hameed is also worried that the ban will promote hatred for America in Muslim countries. “I don’t think that’s what you want to have to decrease terrorist activities,” he said.
Monica B., 65, who asked that her last name not be used because her employer is pro-Trump, said she joined Sunday’s protest after hearing the president’s reaction to demonstrations the day before. “He actually said that it was ‘going nicely’ at the airport,” she said. “I mean, how can you say everything is working out nicely with this regulation when there’s protests everywhere? Can he see?”
Monica believes the Trump administration will continue passing anti-immigrant executive orders unless there is sustained pushback. “I’m scared to death, and I’ve never been scared,” she said. “I wasn’t scared during Vietnam, even though people were getting drafted. I consider myself a senior citizen, and I wouldn’t be out on the street. I would pass the torch if I didn’t think this was so important.”
That message resonated with some of the other protesters. “I’ve certainly felt frustrated at the uncontrollable spiral we’ve been put in in the last 10 days,” said Andrew Nathanson, a 25-year-old social media editor. “Also, I’m Jewish, and I can’t shake the notion that we’re on the track to replicate something we said we would never do again,” he said. “That weighs on me, and anything I can do to actively resist that path, I will.”