After President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning immigration and refugee entry, protests began nationwide. Recently the U.S. Appeals Court halted the ban, but people are still demonstrating against a few of the president’s policies and beliefs.
Over 150 people gathered, and marched, at Gerald R. Ford International Airport today. A diverse group of people stood in the freezing winds, passed around hot boxes of pizza, and chanted in unison before turning to march up to the airport entrance.
“We’re protesting against the Muslim ban, the refugee ban, the wall, and any discrimination against anybody,” said Protest
Organizer Jessica Powell. “It’s the First Amendment right to practice religion freely. If we discriminate against people based on their religion, that’s going against our First Amendment rights.”
Grand Rapids native Powell, 39, works in social services.
“I think we need to make our voices heard,” said Amina Mohammed, 22, of Kentwood. “Grand Rapids is home to a lot of immigrants and refugees and I don’t think a lot of people know we are here … and we’re here to stay.”
Mohammed is Muslim. She teaches locally, and said she and her employees work hard to make the school a safe place, especially for immigrants and refugees.
“We have zero tolerance policies when it comes to bullying,” Mohammed said. “There is no room to even be joking around about things like that in a time like this.”
Mohammed said she hopes lawmakers are watching and seeing the uprise following the executive order.
“Silence is violence,” Mohammed said. “Sometimes we feel like coming out here, and just standing and holding signs every week doesn’t have any effect but it really, really does. It’s not just community members who are watching but senators and people who are in Congress are seeing these things so if they see that people in our cities care … then that might affect policies … This is the least that we can do.”
Liz Czerney, of Grand Rapids, agreed that there shouldn’t be a ban.
“America was founded on everyone coming to the U.S. and being together,” said Czerney, 16.
Collegiate staffer Rachael Yadlowksy contributed to this report.