The following is an eye-witness account of the protest in the aftermath of President Trump’s immigration ban. Submitted by Candace Calloway.
Neon lights beaming images of raining dollar bills from Huntington Bank commercials shine down on me. I plant myself, along with more than 1,000 shivering and shouting protesters, in the middle of the intersection at West State and South High Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Less than two weeks after the January 20th presidential inauguration, Donald Trump has called for an executive order that includes an immigration suspension for the 7 grossly mislabeled “Countries of Concern.” These countries are Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Somalia. This means for the next 90 days any travelers coming from these countries, previously listed as “countries of concern,” will be suspended temporarily from entering the U.S.
Although supporters of this order have expressed that the ban is not strictly for Muslims but for any nationals of these countries traveling to the United States without visas, the fact remains that any human being, all religious and language barriers aside, should not be rendered as an illegal, especially those fleeing destitution or destruction in their home country.
So my thoughts echoed this, and I sat on the cold concrete of the street, in 28-degree weather, with remnants of “Fuck Donald Trump” and “Black Lives Matter” chants flooding both my throat, ears, and the streets of the blackened city. The only light I saw came from Snapchat clips and Facebook Live videos being recorded. The crowds of Black, White, Muslim, Asian, Indian, old, poor, young, and rich, sign holding, middle finger flaunting, protesters all equally in shock and awe of just how loud their voices had grown when they were both in alliance and in agreement.
Our modern protesting has grown in know-how and numbers. It holds the secret powers of growing a Facebook post to a 1,200-person protest in the span of a week. It has turned teachable moments from mandatory face-to-face conversations to expansive and shareable comments on a post. This new government and its elected officials demand that we continue the movement with demands that ring true to what it means to live and fight for not just immigrants, but all the groups of oppressed people of color. Although we may be feeling a considerable distance away from being without want, we as a people, as an old generation, as Millennials, as Feminists, as the “radicals”, as the leftovers from a “Back-in-my-day” story told, as lovers, Columbus-ites, artists, and idealists, one by one, bring our handwritten future to life from the state house steps to Donato’s pizza box protest signs.
Our city rings loud and clear to all that will listen. We refuse to hand our streets over to those who do not know them nor the immigrants, ethnicities, and refugees they are home to. We will continue to resist Trump, fascism, hatred, and opponents against sanctuaries for women and children and all who support them. From all sides, we as the city of Columbus, I as an individual community member, will continue to organize for change, stand for equitable rights for every person, refuse to be divided, and bring life back to voices of the silenced.