Activists in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, rallied 400 people today, Feb. 4, to make their village a strong sanctuary. They urged the village trustees and mayor to keep their word and adopt a Welcoming Village Ordinance that would protect immigrants. The organizers opposed a previous proposal with deportation loopholes.
One of the endorsing groups, the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), called this “Day 8 in the Resistance to Trump's Executive Orders.”
The resistance movement began on Saturday, Jan. 28, as tens of thousands of protesters flooded airports all across the nation to protest the Trump administration's executive order signed the day before, which effectively banned all refugees, plus citizens from seven Arab, African, or Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Just days after the signing of executive orders going after sanctuary cities like Chicago, and expanding the wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico, 3000 protesters descended on the international terminal of O’Hare Airport, after confirmation by the International Rescue Committee that refugees and their families were detained there by the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol.
At a press conference before the protest, Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of AAAN, stated, “The cruel irony in what is being called the ‘Muslim ban,’ in the freezing of all refugee resettlement, and in the blocking of visas for immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, is that the U.S. is either directly militarily engaged or has been threatening military engagement with every single one of these countries. We're dropping bombs or sending weapons and forcing people to flee their homes, and now we're saying that they can't flee here.”
The immediate demands of the coalition at O’Hare were bold and clear: the immediate release of all detainees and the rescinding of the executive orders, a call for Chicago to revise its Welcoming City ordinance to remove carve outs so as to protect all residents, and an end to police criminalization of Black people and other communities of color in Chicago.
As the press conference concluded, the crowd continued to grow and make its way into the streets of the terminal, disrupting and completely stopping traffic from entering and leaving. Protesters demanded that all detainees be released and continued to block the streets for hours. As those outside chanted “Let them in” and “No hate no fear, refugees are welcome here,” detainees were being released and greeted by hundreds who rallied inside the terminal with signs that read, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all,” along with attorneys who volunteered their time to provide legal assistance.
Hours into the protest, it was learned that all detainees at O’Hare had been released, a clear indication of our collective power and a reminder that protests do work, and are the most powerful tactic in the fight against Trump.
No to Trump, no to Rahm
Speakers and representatives of the many organizations who are and have been on the frontlines of this struggle emphasized the importance of unity and resistance against Trump’s racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic policies at the national level, as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's at the local level.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression had organized its own press conference on Thursday, Jan. 26, a few days before the O’Hare upsurge. Because the struggle against Trump has to build on the struggle against police crimes, organizers including Michael Brunson, recording secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), pledged to continue pushing to pass the important Civilian Police Accountability Council ordinance at the Chicago city council level.
At that press conference, Muhammad Sankari of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), said, “We will not allow Rahm Emanuel to use the immigrant community to wash the blood of Laquan, Rekia, Damo, and many more off his hands. Sanctuary means sanctuary for all residents of Chicago, including protecting the Black community from racist police.” Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd, and Dominique “Damo” Franklin were among the over 60 Black people shot and killed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in six years.
The first day of protest at O’Hare was followed on Sunday, Jan. 29, by another protest of 3000 people. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 1, AAAN organized a press conference protest at the Department of Homeland Security in downtown Chicago. Over 1000 people marched through the Loop to Federal Plaza.
In addition to the Arab American Action Network, leading and organizing the Trump resistance of the past week and a half in Chicago has been AnakBayan, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Black Lives Matter, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Korean Resource and Cultural Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, Organized Communities Against Deportations, PASO – West Suburban Action Project, United African Organization and many others.