We must protest when history repeats itself

A group of protestors at Orlando International Airport. Photo courtesy of Rayyan Sukkarieh.

As Americans, I believe it is our civic duty to speak out and protest when we see history about to repeat itself. On January 27, 2017 President Trump signed an executive order akin to the beginning stages of the Nazi takeover of Germany. The executive order was put in place under the guise of national security to ban refugees as well as foreign-born Muslims from 7 specific countries.

I’m not even going to get into how he signed this order on Holocaust Remembrance Day or how several countries not included in the executive order have business ties to our president.

Instead, I will focus on today’s activities: more nationwide protests. Earlier this month we saw thousands of people come out for the now-historic Women’s March. This momentum continued with nationwide protests at airports where Muslim people were being detained simply because of their nation of origin and faith. Similar to the Women’s March, the largest protests were in New York and California where even taxi drivers joined in solidarity. However, there were also smaller protests throughout the nation as people stood up for their local communities.

Today, I attended a rally at the Orlando International Airport to support Muslims in central Florida. Our group met up a few miles from the airport where people were briefed on how to keep the protest peaceful and orderly and where to meet up at the airport. I feel that as a white woman, it is my job to empower the women who are forgotten more often than not. I feel that as a Jew, it is my duty to remind my nation that “never again” applies to all people.

Upon arriving at the airport with two friends, I joined the crowd. The group organizers were preparing the crowd with chants such as “No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!” and “Hey hey ho ho, Islamophobia has got to go!” We soon departed the parking garage and entered the airport. Many people in the airport, as well as local news stations, filmed us as we made our way deeper into the airport. Once at the center, we chanted more as we waited for the full group to get inside.

“Show me what America looks like! This is what America looks like!”

“1, we are the people! 2, a little bit louder! 3, we are the people 4 the people!”

The police force was very helpful with the situation and it seemed that many were on our side. There was one almost negative interaction once the group started to move towards the terminals. I saw an officer arguing with a young man; however, a woman stepped in and diffused the situation. I overheard the cop say that he wanted to let us go forward but that he wasn’t allowed to and he had to do his job.

As soon as it had started, it was over. I’m not sure if this is because we were being kicked out of the airport or not but our group made our way back downstairs amidst the crowd. I got hugs from a couple of hijab-clad women thanking me for my solidarity, and honestly that’s what this is all about.

Our group reconvened on the other side of the road, back in the garage. There were more chants, pictures, and hugs. The group slowly dissolved as everyone headed back to their cars. The protest had bonded people of all backgrounds, which ironically made for the most considerate and easy time getting out of an airport in my entire life.

He will not divide us. No ban, no wall.