Protestors march 28 blocks from Union Square to Bryant Park on January 30 to protest Trump’s ban on immigration. Photo by Brelaun Douglas
Braced against the cold of a late January night, their breath mixing with the icy air with every chant, protestors gathered at Union Square in Manhattan to rally against President Trump’s recent ban on immigrants from several countries.
Decked in scarves, gloves and with signs that read “ We are Earthlings” and “ Students in Solidarity,” they chanted “No ban. No registry. F*ck White supremacy,” and let it be known that they wouldn’t stand for the president’s executive order.
Taking a break from crying out “One solution: revolution” a student was called forward to tell her own personal story.
“When I came in on the train on the 26th, it was the day before the ban,” said the Iranian born student living in Canada who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “I was searched because they thought that I was coming and going to the U.S. too many times. They searched everything: they searched my notebooks, my writings, my phone. The Farsi and the Hebrew in my stuff alarmed them, I could tell,” said the student who is getting her PhD in politics at the New School.
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries for 90 days, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely and suspending refuge admissions for 120 days.
The order quickly prompted nation-wide protests as thousand flocked to airports over the weekend to protest the ban and demand that detained refugees be let free.
The PhD student went on to tell a sea of shocked faces that she was told she was only allowed to stay in the U.S. until February 3.
“The officer said that he will be on the train to make sure that I am on it and if not he will send Trump’s people after me,” she said. “Now I have to go back and I don’t know if I can return. I don’t know what’s going to happen with my PhD, and more importantly to me, I don’t now if I’m going to ever see the people or the city that I love so much again. It’s a very traumatic experience because I already went through that as a child and you work so hard to heal those wounds. You just don’t imagine this happening again in what you call a liberal democracy.”
Many of the protestors had amassed in the square following a rally at the New School. Among them was Mariel Gauger, a second year student at the New School with an undeclared major.
“I’m here to share solidarity with all the immigrant students at the New School who might be put in danger by Trump’s new policies,” she said. “I think Trump is only the tip of the iceberg with this kind of stuff.”
While in the square, protestors were joined by others who wanted to show their support, including Anthony Cartagine, a third year economic student at Baruch College.
“I’m out here to protest against Trump, and to protest the ban especially, and to support the people that are threatened by Trump,” he said. “When I first heard about it, it was very upsetting. It felt a bit shocking even though it’s what he said he was going to do.”
For many, what they wanted to result from the rallies and the protests was clear.
“With all the rallies and the protest I would like to see people mobilizing beyond just the rallies,” said Cartagine as he marched 28 blocks with the group to Bryant Park to meet up with more students from Fordham University and Columbia. “ They help inspire other forms of action and I think that probably the best thing to do is [for] people to just continue to act beyond the protest and take action whenever they can.”
But for the PhD student, it was more difficult to articulate her exact wants.
“Where I hope this goes, I have no idea,” she said. “Open borders and less wars. My hopes are too much to say right now”
The snow has fallen, the Christmas trees have gone up, and the lights have been strung. The Holiday season is here. New York City is known for going out all out with decorations. It is also known for being home to over 62,000 homeless people, for whom the holidays may have a different tone. For those who call the streets their home, the holidays may be a reminder of the things they don’t have like a Christmas tree, someone to celebrate with or even being able to be inside for a week.
(From left to right) Church members Diana Branch, Yvette McClamb, and Renee Lilly along with other members hold signs to support NYC marathon runners Photo by Brelaun Douglas.
Hitting the 22-mile marker next to Marcus Garvey park in Harlem, today marathon runners were greeted with cheers of “you can do it”, signs reading “22 miles and you still look sexy”, and the smells of cooking hot dogs and hamburgers.
The members of 5th Ave. Church of God, located right along the route on 5th Avenue and 120th street, came out at 9:30 a.m. to offer free food, music, words of encouragement and prayers.
“We’re out here today because we realized that New York City has one day that it comes together, that it’s absolutely diverse and unified and that’s on this day: the marathon,” said church member Diana Branch. “So we figured we’d come out and join in with all of the diversity and beautiful love of unity and also give out free food and tell people the love of Jesus just by showing it, because sometimes people don’t want to come into church and I get it. We’re too churched out in this nation. So instead of doing all of that we wanted to come out and pray for people, give them food and bless people.”
Members of the church attend the race every year cheering runners on and offering them prayers and inspiring words, but this year they wanted to do something different.
“Last year when we came out we were just talking and cheering people on, but this year is the first year that we’ve done the food and the music,” Branch said. “We’re giving out hamburgers and hot dogs and water and we’re also sending the kids out to encourage the runners with waters and high-fives.”
First lady of the church, Juanita Daniels, wanted to make sure that the church supported and encouraged the runners and everyone at the race without compromising themselves.
“To be relevant without compromise,” said Daniels on why the church was supporting the race. “Our music is Christian music. It’s Christian rap, Christian salsa, Christian R&B and it’s a tool of Evangelism. It would draw those who normally wouldn’t come. If you watch for a little while you will see people walk by and they’re dancing and they don’t even realize its Christian music and it draws them in and then we have that chance to spread the love of Jesus with them.”
Branch also felt that it was important to support the race and runners because it was a great time to come together.
“It’s a beautiful day for diversity,” she said. “I admire this day so much because with everything that’s going on with the world this is the one place right now that nobody’s angry. It’s awesome.”
Notes that participants filled out addressed to Mayor de Blasio asked for protection while biking or walking on the streets that were to be mailed to him. Photo by Brelaun Douglas.
On Thursday evening, as the sun set and the air cooled in signs of fall, a horde of yellow invaded downtown Manhattan.
Beginning at E 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, hundreds of bicyclists decked in yellow flowers and safety vest rode from Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park in a protest demanding not only safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians, but also that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio take immediate action on Vision Zero and invest in fixing dangerous streets in the city.
Seventeen cyclists have been killed this year, which is more than the last year total of 15.
In 2014, the mayor’s office and various city agencies released the Vision Zero Action Plan, an outline of 63 initiatives that they would initiate to diminish the amount of deaths and serious injuries on the streets of New York. Since its inception, 58 new initiatives have been added including installing speed cameras at 20 new locations and installing 250 speed humps.
But for 46-year-old Andreas Turanski, the plan is not doing enough.
“I was telling someone what Vision Zero meant because they had no idea, so obviously the message isn’t getting out,” he said. “They’re not policing enough.”
Though he forgot his bike at home, Turanski wouldn’t let that deter him from joining the protest and rented a Citi Bike to participate with.
“I have two bikes at home, I forgot to bring one, but I really want to be a part of this because I care,” said the software developer who lives on the Upper West Side. “My son’s 14 and he walks on the streets too and also rides on them, as do I and so does everyone else. I wanted to be a part of this so I grabbed one down in the Financial District where I work and biked up here.”
Riding his bike about 20 times a week, Turanski really hoped that the event would put pressure onto the issue of pedestrians and bicyclists killed by motorists.
“I would like to get real policing so that people who drive are aware that if they speed, if they turn aggressively, they will get a ticket and they will stop doing it,” he said.
Amirl Hamer, 49, is an activist with Transportation Alternative, one of the groups responsible for putting on the protest, also wanted to see a change in the safety of the streets for all.
“We’re fighting for safe streets, whether you’re a cyclists, a pedestrian, you’re in a wheelchair or whatever form of transportation you take besides cars,” she said. “We’re working on having safe streets.”
Angela Azzolino, of Sunset Park in Brooklyn runs an organization called Get Women Cycling, geared towards encouraging women to ride their bikes, and wanted to see a safer environment for that to happen.
“The number one reason in all my conversations with women is that they’re afraid to ride their bikes because they’re afraid of being hit by a car,” she said. “That’s a pity because it shouldn’t prevent you from a healthier lifestyle, so we’re doing everything we can to get safer streets for everybody.”
Adam Johnson,43, a lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, also came out to show his support in the cause and hoped that real changes would occur.
“This year there have been twice the number of deaths to this point in the year than there have been in past years despite the mayor’s lip service to Vision Zero,” he said, sitting on his bicycle while still decked out in suit pants and a button up shirt. “We need better enforcement of traffic laws by NYPD, we need enforcement of speed limits for cars, we need better infrastructure in support in terms of protected bike lanes where appropriate and better street architecture. That’s why I’m here. That’s why all of us are here and we hope New York pays attention.”
Edward Olaié stood wrapped in an American flag outside of the World Trade Center Site. Photo by Brelaun Douglas
In Lower Manhattan, at 8:46 a.m. this morning, the St. Paul’s Church Bell of Hope tolled in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Standing across the street just outside of the World Trade Center Site, wrapped in and American flag, was Edward Olaié.
For many Americans, 9/11 is a day in history to be forever remembered. On the early morning of September 11, 2001, four passenger airplanes were hijacked: one was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., one into Pennsylvania and the other two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Around 3,000 people were killed, over 6,000 injured and in the following years major changes were made to airport policies and American defense.
But only three-years-old during the attacks, Olaié, 19, has no actual memory of the tragic day in American history.
The Kew Gardens, Queens resident is among a group of Americans with no direct memory of this day or a pre 9/11 America. There is nothing for them to compare it to or memories of that day for them to share. With the average age of a high school freshman being between 13- 15, no one in the ninth grade and below would have been born for the events of 9/11. Those a few years older would have little to no memory of the day.
Yet the day still resonates with them, despite not being able to remember or having been born for it, as a day for paying their respects to those whose lives were lost.
“It hit all of New York and America, so I come down here to pay respect to people who lost their families and to New York,” Olaié, said standing in the cloudy, cool morning air.
Olaié was taught about the event in school and felt inspired by what he learned.
“In all of the grades they taught us about it,” he said. “In 8th grade, my science teacher said that he was down here helping out and ever since then I was like I’ll come down here as much as I can.”
As the clouds began to disappear and the sun shone through, North New Jersey resident Brayden Ortiz, arrived with his father to also pay his respects for the lives lost.
“My dad knew a lot of the people who died there and he worked with them,” said the 12-year-old of his father who works for Port Authority. “So we came down to look at the memorial.”
Having not been born yet, Ortiz gets his knowledge of the events from what he is taught in school.
“We learned that planes crashed into the towers and many people saved other people’s lives,” he said standing outside of the World Trade Center Site closed off to the public until 3 p.m. to allow a memorial ceremony for victim’s families. “They basically risked their lives to save the innocent. There were people who didn’t really know anyone and they saved a lot of people’s lives and they died for other people.”
Mason Gray, 14, also uses what he learns at school to form his perception of the day.
“We were taught about the times of all the events that happened, the collapse, the planes and everything,” said the Wilkes Barre, Pa. resident. “How many people died and how we remember it.”
Born two months later in December, Gray sees the events of 9/11 as a testament to America’s strength and resilience.
“It basically means that nothing can bring America down, that tower right there says that,” he said pointing to the Freedom Tower. “We’ll always stand back up.”