Over 1,000 people, including elected officials and activists, protested President Donald Trump’s (R) recent immigration order curbing refugee admissions at the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza in Jersey City.
“This really is about the values that we stand for here in Jersey City and I think the turnout tonight speaking to that so thank you all for coming out,” Mayor Steven Fulop said on stage.
“We have said over the last few days, time and time again, that we are the Golden Door of America: you look at this crowd, you look at this city, it represents everything that is good about this country.”
Fulop also vowed that the city council would be working on “formal laws” that make Jersey City one of the “ clearest and strongest sanctuary cities in the State of New Jersey.”
He was joined on stage by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), as well as Council members Jermaine Robinson, Chris Gadsden, Rolando Lavarro and Daniel Rivera, who did not speak as part of the program.
The rally came together quickly after Trump issued an executive order on Friday banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from immigrating to the United States, citing national security concerns.
Ahmed Shedeed, the president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, was one of many speakers who emphasized that such a measure would not change his world views.
“This is the land of opportunity and it’s gonna stay this way! This is the land of freedom and it’s gonna stay this way! This is our land, this is our home, this is a home for everybody and it’s gonna stay this way!”
Referring to Trump as “a shrewd divider in Washington,” Rev. Eugene Squeo said that the president failed to realize the diversity and unity that exists throughout the nation.
Michael Billy, the event organizer and an LGBTQ activist, commended everyone in attendance for taking a stand for what they feel is right.
“Tonight we have to remember that today … this past week, this past weekend, our grandchildren and our children will ask us about these times. They’ll ask us about this past week and they’ll ask us what we did to defend our country,” exclaimed Billy.
“What we did to stand together and make our voices heard during this time and you can tell them that you came here tonight. There’s a birthing going on in the United States, we’re being born, we’re being activated. People are realizing that life isn’t just about happy puppy photos on Facebook.”
Dozens of signs all had a similar theme of tolerance and acceptance: “We are ALL the children of immigrants #NOBAN,” one sign said.
“I LEFT MY LAMP BESIDE THE GOLDEN DOOR,” another sign read. “Justice: We will not allow our country to be divided,” was another message seen in the massive crowd.
“The people, united, we’ll never be defeated,” the crowd chanted as they waited for the program to start.