Mireya Delapena came to the United States from Mexico when she was six. Now, she runs a small business in East Harlem, helping Mexicans in both countries transmit money and packages. But after President Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday to build a wall at the US-Mexico border, she is worried that her business will be severely affected.
Tamara Morejon, 14, of Long Island City, in the side lot of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens on Jan. 30, 2017. Morejon was at the “He Will Not Divide Us” installation for her third time. Photo by Razi Syed.
Nestled between a brick-lined apartment building and pale grey office suites, an ever-changing group of teenagers and young adults softly chanted “He will not divide us” over and over again in the side lot of an Astoria, Queens museum yesterday..
“I’m here for my parents, who came here from Mexico,” said Tamara Morejon, 14, of Long Island City, standing beside the Museum of the Moving Image, where “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” is painted on the wall. “They’re undocumented; they don’t have the same benefits that immigrants have.”
Morejon said she was there for the third day in a row, usually staying for several hours on each visit, and that she intended to come back for as long as her parents lacked the rights of citizenship.
Since Trump was inaugurated, 11 days ago, performance artists Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner have asked members of the public to stand in front of the text and chant, ‘he will not divide us,’ for as long as they wish. A mounted camera, located just below the text, livestreams the activity at hewillnotdivide.us
“Open to all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the participatory performance will be live-streamed continuously for four years, or the duration of the presidency,” reads a statement from the trio explaining their work. “In this way, the mantra ‘HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ acts as a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
During an hour-long period beginning at 3 p.m.,around 20 people braved wind chill and temperatures in the 30s to participate in the exhibit. The number of people at any one time varied from four to 10.
The soft, trance-like chants in front of the text were periodically stopped as the chanters broke off into conversations with one another while standing on the sandy side lot where the words “one people, one love” and the shape of a heart were carved into the ground.
Harry Maria, 32, of Castle Hill, Bronx, was there for his second time, after a brief visit the previous week.
“It hasn’t been as busy as I hoped but the energy is amazing,” Maria said. “The main thing is, this gives us a platform to voice our opinions and make sure we’re heard.”
Maria said the view Trump and his supporters have on immigration to the United States were hypocritical.
“No disrespect to anyone,” Maria said, “but I feel that a lot of us when you look at yourself in the mirror — whether it’s first generation, second generation, third generation — no matter how far you want to go back: someone in your family was given the opportunity to come to this land, and work hard to better their life.”
Christian Mansfield, 33, of Sunnyside, Queens, said executive order freezing the processing of refugees and barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States was the action he felt he had to oppose most strongly. Mansfield said he was inspired, however, after watching a week-long string of demonstrations against the new administration, from the women’s march on the day following the inauguration to the spontaneous airport protests on Sunday.
“I’m only 33-years-old but this is the first time I’ve seeing anything like this,” he said. “So often people say, ‘Why protest? It doesn’t make any difference.’
“But I remember the fight for gay marriage — I protested for equal rights, I marched after Prop 8,” Mansfield continued. “Now gay men and women can get married and I have a husband, so I’ll always love seeing people fight for what they believe in.”
Parents, students and teachers gathered outside Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, and voiced their concerns about Betsy DeVos’ pending appointment to Secretary of Education. Public Education Watchdogs organized the demonstration and pressed Sen. Schumer to block DeVos’ confirmation during this week’s Senate vote.
Since the demonstration, a Senate panel met on Tuesday afternoon and voted 12-11 in favor of DeVos. This will advance her confirmation to a full Senate vote for final approval. Democrats remain hopeful they can acquire the three Republican votes needed to block her appointment. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have both expressed their own reservations with DeVos’ appointment, but neither have confirmed the direction of their vote.
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”
Hundreds of protesters gathered Monday at Tompkins Square Park Rally Against Hate, and many carried creative signs including this unofficial quote from Lady Liberty herself. Photo Credit: Cassidy Morrison
Hundreds gathered at Tompkins Square Park tonight for the Rally Against Hate, displaying signs that supported an end to racism, the ban on Muslim refugees, the proposed building of a border wall, and women’s reproductive rights. This was just the latest in a week fraught with protests and marches against the new Trump Administration’s executive actions.
The recent proliferation of protests and grassroots movements points to increased public discourse on politics and human rights. The Rally Against Hate was one example of an energized city eager to invoke change in Washington.
“This is a school night, and look how many people are here,” Sheryl Nelson, 41 of the West Village said, pointing to her 12-year-old son. “There have been protests in D.C. in the past about pro-choice, against nuclear war, what have you, and I feel like I’ve never seen so many people out protesting.. I think that elected officials will see that people are showing up and protesting and chanting, and hopefully that will inspire them to do the right thing,” Nelson said.
Rather than dwelling on the fear that permeates throughout the country, protesters expressed their optimism that public demonstrations would inspire the public at large to get involved with a cause that they care about.
“I wish we didn’t have to do it this way, but the good side is that we have a lot of people active,” said Tamira Wyndham, 48 of the East Village. “My purpose here is to encourage people to do more than just attend protests, but also to get involved with an organization and work on specific things, whether they want to change a law or whatever they want to do.”
Wyndham stressed the need for protesters to go further than attending a demonstration.
“I think protests are really important, but I don’t think they’re enough by themselves,” Wyndham said. “A one-time protest is great, but it doesn’t do anything by itself. You have to keep the pressure. These are great, but there needs to be more.”
Amid loud chants of “Dump Trump”, protesters chatted excitedly with their neighbors. They complimented each other’s signs. They munched side by side on free vegan donuts being passed around.
“I think this woke something up in people, it got people off the couch and on the streets instead of complaining,” said Joy Lau, 32 of the East Village. “When I came here and saw that there are so many people actually protesting, putting in their time, standing in the cold, I see that we all need this support.”
Lau, among others, expressed the importance of carrying on widespread movements and protests like this one, in order to give people a new outlet for expressing themselves while remaining in solidarity with one another. This was not, in her view, sore losers commiserating but rather hopeful citizens showing strength.
“I don’t know if this is the new normal because it’s not normal at all,” Lau said.” I think it’s actually good that all of us came out in the first week. It’s like a frog being put in slowly boiling water. If this came out slowly, we might not notice it. We know that we have to take action. The feeling is that we have to do something right now.”
Lau’s urgency has been echoed across the country and will, in her view and in that of many, continue throughout the next four years as more people feel the need to let their voices be heard.
Concerned New Yorkers gathered at JFK International Airport’s Terminal 4 to protest President Trump’s executive order that barred entry into the United States refugees from seven majority Muslim countries. Photo by Cora Cervantes
“Let them In! Let them In!” roared thousands of New Yorkers outside of Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International airport.
Rez Iriqui, 36, from Long Island, watched nearby and listened intently as he held his young son over his shoulders.
“I am an immigrant,” he said. “I am not a protester. I work on Wall Street, but I am here because I am worried about the future of my children. Within the last five days we have seen things that I thought would never have happened in America.”
Iriqui and his family joined thousands of New Yorkers yesterday who gathered outside of Terminal 4 to express outrage over President Trump’s executive order banning travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Early Saturday morning word spread that due to the new executive order issued by the Trump administration on Friday evening, travelers had been detained inside airports across the country and were not permitted entry into the country. Through posts and calls to action on social media a mass protest began to form at Terminal 4. Among the protesters were many immigrants who said they knew what was at stake for the refugees seeking shelter in America.
“I come from an immigrant background and an immigrant family,” said Farhan Hossain, 25, who came from Manhattan’s Flatiron district to join the demonstration. “I am here to stand in solidarity with refugees that are being detained. I am against a Trump regime that implements fascist measures that detain people indefinitely.”
The order barred entry into the United States to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, seven majority Muslim countries that have been categorized as “countries of particular concern.” The order also suspended the United States refugee program for the next four months, outlines increased screenings and will prioritize Christian refugees. The seven countries listed are not responsible for any terrorist attacks in America. Opponents argue that the list can be construed as arbitrary and a conflict of interest since the list does not include Muslim-majority countries where the Trump Organization does business, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
By late afternoon protesters at JFK held signs that read “Let Them In,” and chanted “Resist, Fight Back, This is Our New York!” People remained outside the terminal late into the evening in spite of the cold temperatures. As the crowds grew the mood was tense but also filled with solidarity. Some protesters arrived with coffee, donuts, and hand warmers to show support for all those that had been protesting under cold weather conditions since noon.
“I am tremendously upset by what President Trump has done,” said Jessica Valentino, 28, who came out from Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “I am an adoptee, I came into the country when I was 3 months old…to think of all the families and other people trying to come here that no longer have that opportunity is absolutely heartbreaking.”
At 6:30 p.m. protesters kneeled and listened to updates concerning the state of those being detained. Across the street near the entrance to Terminal 4, which had been closed and was guarded by police in riot gear, Azi Amari, 37, from Brooklyn, held a sign up toward them.
“I am Iranian, I was going to travel in two weeks to visit my family in Iran.They all live there. Even though I am a green card holder. I cannot come back if I go,” she said “My family is so shocked. We are trying to figure what will happen next. Based on this new ban they are not allowed to come visit me. I think this is unfair. It is totally discrimination.”
At about 7:30 p.m. protesters received word that Judge Ann M. Donnelly had issued an emergency stay that halted deportations of those being detained. This ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two individuals who had been detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The ruling addressed those being barred entry at airports in the United States, but does not address those who are trapped abroad.
As protesters marched around Terminal 4, some were heading to the courthouse to join others who wanted to be briefed following the ruling, including Mazeba Uddin, 50, Jamaica Hills, Queens and an immigrant from Bangladesh.
“We are strong together,” she said. “Our country, Our community is strong – Trump is not strong. Our millions of votes count, he needs to understand that.”
Protests at airports throughout the country are set to continue until those being detained are released.
Don Krogman came from West Babylon, New York to see the inauguration. Photo by Rebeca Corleto.
The overflow areas went unused. White plastic temporary flooring intended to be filled with supporters extended well past the last person in attendance. The inauguration of President Donald Trump yesterday did not live up to the hype.
“I was shocked at how empty it is here,” said Sami Mehta, 18, a Dartmouth student who stopped by to see the inauguration in person.
Though the crowd was unimpressive in number, that didn’t detract from the excitement his supporters felt on the first day of his presidency.
Don Krogman, 55, from West Babylon, New York lost his job at Victoria’s Secret, and has been out of work for a year and a half. He calls himself a “forgotten 55-year-old”, left behind by a changing society.
“When you hear, ‘you’re bigoted, you’re a racist, you’re an idiot for voting—.’ How does that make you feel? I turn around and say, ‘I’m gonna do it again next year,’” he said.
A lifelong Democrat, Krogman became an Independent after 9/11. His distrust of government and need for change, drove him to Trump.
“I would’ve voted for [Bernie] Sanders until we found out that the Democrats don’t believe in democracy and selected Hillary [Clinton] to be their champion,” he said.
Halfway between the Capitol and the Washington Monument the crowd thinned out. It was a vastly different scene than 2009, when the crowd spilled into the overflow areas, filling the National Mall for Obama’s first inauguration. Early estimates judge the Trump inauguration to have attracted one-third of the crowd of Obama’s. Many of the best seats at the inaugural parade were empty.
Bridget Begdin of just outside Denver, Colorado, said Trump was her ideal candidate.
“I think everybody’s energized and excited about the new direction of our country,” she said. “Everyone is hopeful, there’s excitement.”
But his message of hope doesn’t translate outside of his overwhelmingly white supporters. And the aggressive, dark tone of his inauguration speech, left non-Trump supporters with a different vibe.
“I definitely feel a lot of anger here,” said Rahul Califya, 19, of the Bay Area in California. “It’s less hopeful and more of a [feeling of] reclaiming something that was taken away from us, a sort of revenge.”
Many of Trump supporters drove hundreds of miles to witness his inauguration.
David Wallace, 63, of Boaz, Alabama wore the red “Make America Great Again” hat, the ubiquitous accessory of Trump’s supporters. His Auburn University poncho kept him dry when the rain fell on cue with Trump’s inaugural address.
“I drove in a pick up truck, takes about 11 hours,” he said. “He’s great, worth all the trouble. He made a great speech. There were so many protestors, we had a hard time getting in, running the gaunlet to get in here. The turnout was really good.”
Though Wallace is rooting for Trump, he is not blindly optimistic about the new presidency. The message was clear: Trump is on thin ice and expected to perform. Wallace’s main concerns were “getting people working again” and strengthening the military and borders.
“He’s gonna pull the country together and if he doesn’t, in four years we’ll put him out of office,” he said.