From City Heights Town Hall to Airport Protest
By Anna Daniels
“Tell me what democracy looks like!”
“This is what democracy looks like!”
The chant ran up and down the whole length of Terminal 2 of San Diego’s Lindbergh Airport, up and down the opposite side of the terminal and could be heard on the second floor walkway. Three lines of cars ran between the two and those cars honked their horns while passengers waved flags and held signs outside of the windows.
An estimated 2,000 of us put our bodies on the public sidewalks of the airport to protest the fear and chaos engendered by Trump’s recent executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim countries.
Protesters were energized and vocal. Those who are most directly threatened by the executive action were there. A young woman stepped off the curb into the passenger drop off area with a sign reading “Somali, Muslim, Refugee #NoBanNoWall”. Those of us who live without that threat– at the moment– were there to support and protect them and oppose Trump.
The scene at the airport was one of our most cherished and obvious expressions of what democracy looks like—citizens exercising their right to peacefully assemble– and protest.
A few hours earlier a town hall took place in the mid-city community of City Heights, where 38% of the residents are foreign born immigrants and refugees. PANA (Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans) had assembled civic leaders to address the questions raised by over 300 hundred people who packed the East African Community Center.
City Height’s Sudanese and Somali residents were the most heavily represented of the seven Muslim majority countries specified in the ban. Some had refugee status, while others were green card holders (permanent resident status) and others were American citizens.
Malevolence and incompetence with intent of creating chaos
If the airport protests later that evening represented what America looks like, the concerned faces in that town hall meeting reflected how the Trump administration has set about attacking that very thing.
I arrived at the town hall meeting too late to hear who was providing legal analysis to the group. The clearest message was directed to green card holders and those with dual citizenship who were counseled to not leave the country if at all avoidable. Legal advisors felt that it would take some time to get legal clarity on who was ultimately affected by the executive order.
We would all learn later Sunday night that the Trump administration had walked back the ban on admitting green card holders.
The Trump administration initiated the ban on the seven specific countries as a first step in fighting “Islamic terrorism”, despite the fact that they are not linked to terrorist activities.
Politifact verifies that since 9/11, terrorist acts in the United States have not been carried out by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It is crucial that we all know that.
The fear and chaos unleashed by the Trump administration is morally and politically reprehensible. Trump’s shadow extends well beyond the seven Muslim majority countries specified in his Friday executive order.
Border Agents question residents at City Heights El Super
I walked the four blocks home from the town hall displaying the sign I had taken there as I stood in friendship and solidarity with my neighbors. “First they came for immigrants and refugees in City Heights and we said NO!”
Two young Latinas approached. They were dressed up and one of the women was wearing a little black headband with cat ears. I held up my sign. They looked at the sign, then at me. One of the women gave a thumbs up.
I asked them their thoughts about the political climate and they were deeply fearful for their family and friends. The concern immediately spread from the ban to the wall. A conversation a few minutes later with my Mexican American neighbor removed that concern from the realm of the abstract.
My neighbor said that her boyfriend’s mother was in El Super last week and saw Border Patrol agents in the store questioning shoppers. How long has this been going on? Who knows about it? And what should we be doing about it?
It is impossible to analyze Trump’s first week in office without coming to the conclusion that constantly destabilizing our society while undermining democratic institutions is the intent of White House strategist Steve Bannon.
The push back from millions of people in this country that occurred first with the Women’s March and then the airport protests is an encouraging sign that people at the grass roots level are ready for the fight. Congressional Democrats haven’t caught up with the people and we shouldn’t expect Republicans to decry Executive branch overreach–unless a Democrat is president.
When I returned home from the airport last night, I found local coverage of the event on KUSI. Their designated meat-with-eyes on the street was shaking his head at the sign he saw exhorting “Death to Amerika.” He noted that America was misspelled.
He neglected to say that the handwriting on the sign resembled Steve Bannon’s.
Photo Gallery of Sunday January 29 Protests at San Diego Lindbergh Field