Filmed by Ford Fischer
Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
“Mr. Trump, history has its eye on you.”
That was Tom Perez, newly-elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaking to a group of about one hundred protesters gathered on short notice outside the White House against another travel ban by President Trump.
After the demise of his first executive order amid heavy criticism by opponents branding it a “Muslim Ban,” Trump’s second attempt at fulfilling a top campaign promise repackages much of the inner workings of its predecessor. It includes a wide-reaching ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries – with a few notable exceptions for green card holders and travelers from Iraq.
“The first order was unconstitutional, and this order is unconstitutional – you can only put so much lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig,” said Perez, who addressed the crowd along with representatives of the ACLU, CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin, city officials, and others. An attack on one, is attack on all, chanted those gathered, echoing a common rebuttal by pro-immigration activists to arguments in favor of mass deportations and restrictions on refugees.
Monday’s action was organized on-the-fly, in a manner similar (though smaller in scale) to the outpouring of grassroots actions at airports around the country after Trump’s first order.
Though DC-area protests are normally held in close coordination with local law enforcement, especially when sponsored by prominent organizations, a disruption by police just after the event’s onset led to confusion. Citing a “security event” without offering specifics, U.S. Secret Service officers forced the rally into the northeast corner of Lafayette Square shortly after speeches began, vacating the recently-reopened portion of Pennsylvania Avenue behind the northern half of the White House. The event’s organizers chose to obey police orders, and there were no arrests.
A freelance videographer was briefly detained nearby for reasons unrelated to the protest, and ultimately released.
Another action against the new travel ban is planned early on Tuesday morning outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection building on Pennsylvania Avenue.