As Mark Sheppard, Founder of the Economic Research Center, speaks to the crowd holding signs with slogans from “No Ban, No Wall” to “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance,” he is interrupted by a car horn of an excited supporter driving by. This is the fifth time this has happened in the past half hour. The crowd cheers and Sheppard yells “Thanks, that guy!” after the car. In this moment, the driver, the strangers at the rally, and the speaker all connected.
In response to President Donald Trump’s executive order which banned entrance to the country from seven predominantly Muslim countries, five Bay Area high school students organized a peaceful protest on Sunday, Feb. 12 at the intersection of Mary and El Camino in Cupertino.
The event started with a brief poster making session which was followed by a panel of guest speakers who spoke to a crowd of 100-200 people. They raised concerns about Trump’s policies, inspired listeners with their stories, and excited the crowd with cheers.
Bearing posters and megaphones, the group headed to all four corners of the intersection and began chanting collectively. One chant was a call and response of, ‘Tell me what democracy looks like!’ ‘This is what democracy looks like!’ Another was “Spread love, not hate.” Cars that drove by honked in support.
Below are pictures and quotes from some of the speakers:
“I urge us to work with compassion, to place ourselves in the shoes of those who flee, fight, and beg for security…If the Trump administration has any shred of humanity and decency, it will institute an immediate end on this ban and will allow families from barred countries to return to the US and reunite with their families and return to their daily lives. Anything less is a complete disgrace….We must stand up for what is right. We must demand simple justice, equal opportunity, and nothing less than just human rights.”
– Yasaman Hakami, senior at Homestead High School and protest organizer
“I believe that my job is to spread God’s command for peace. Therefore, I stand here today to fight for the America that I believe in, the America that I was born in, the America that can be your home whether you are religious or non-religious, immigrant or refugee, white or black or brown. I am protesting the ban and I am protesting the wall because these two bans are dividing us on ethnic and religious lines…I ask everyone to join me and say ‘no ban, no wall.’”
– Arrian Ebrahimi, junior at Saint Francis
“Protests aren’t everything, but they are very important…I’m not sure what all of the answers are. I’m sure that no one here is sure what all the answers are, but one thing that I do know is, first, know your rights…Know that they can’t come into your house without a warrant signed by a judge. And second of all, is build community, whether that is at your church, your mosque, or your open mic that you play at every week. Because together we are strong and together we can change our country….What are you doing to do tomorrow that is not protesting?”
– Eddie Cisneros, Bernie Sanders Campaign Organizer and Democratic Delegate
“The scapegoating of foreign workers to distract from the fact of failed and trashed domestic policies cannot continue. We cannot continue to blame documented and undocumented workers for our own policies…Broad reforms need to happen [to our immigration system]. We cannot allow ignorance to be spewed from the media. We are smarter than this. [The ban of people] from seven Muslim majority countries…makes exceptions for every religious community except for Muslims…That is religious bigotry…A majority of the religious hate crimes affect Muslims. Just last year, [there was]a 64% increase of the intolerable number of hate crimes affecting Muslims.”
– Mark Sheppard, Founder of the Economic Research Center
“Let’s not make assumptions about what an American looks like, nor judge people based on their appearances, nor exclude them based on where they’re from. That’s not what Americans do and that’s not what America is all about. The famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty is an ode to immigrants. “Give me your tired, give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” That sentence is not followed by, except those from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen….[This ban] is counter to what our founding fathers intended by including text regarding religious freedom in the first amendment of the US constitution and it’s completely antithetical to the values and ideals that made this nation strong and why we love living here.”
– Athar Siddiqee, Founder of Bay Area CAIR, President of Islamic American Resolution
“We must remind our administration that when we say never again, we mean never again…When we see people in need, we will be a place of sanctuary. We will remind our representatives that we aren’t going anywhere and they work for us….We belong here. We are a part of a piece of this vast puzzle of a country that is unique and beautiful. And anyone who is fighting to find refuge from persecution deserves the right to live…I am a US citizen and I intend to make it something that I will be proud of.”
– Yuliya Eydelnaut, Former-Refugee, Head Organizer of Stand San Jose
Additional photos from the protest:
All photos were posted on the event Facebook page by various attendees: https://www.facebook.com/events/1066872146791388/?active_tab=discussion