“No Ban, No Wall”, protesters stand in solidarity with immigrants

“No hate! No Fear! Refugees are welcome here,” chanted a group of protesters on the steps of Huntington City Hall Wednesday.

The protests were in reaction to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, an order that temporarily blocks refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. The executive order has sparked controversy across the nation, with similar protests in other major cities and airports.

Rebecca Finley, a Huntington native, decided that Huntington should join those cities in solidarity. On Jan. 29, Finley created a Facebook event page calling for a protest of the ban. The page titled, “No ban! No Wall! Solidarity for Immigrants,” sparked interest in more than 750 people, according to Facebook. The page called for the protest on Wednesday at Huntington’s city hall.

“For them to feel like there are people standing with them and their rights is something that I’m passionate about,” Finley said. “As someone that was born and raised and here, and someone that converted here in this city as a Muslim, I completely understand what kind of backlash they can get from this community, but also I want to show them the positivity of the people here as well.”

Finley and her family just recently cancelled a vacation they had been planning for the summer due to her husband being a green card holder.

“We actually planned our whole vacation around this summer to go over to the Middle East, and we actually had to cancel our flights because of the fear,” Finley said.

Finley felt that a demonstration was important in West Virginia especially due to Trump’s popularity in the state’s election polls. According to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s online data services, Trump won the popular vote with 68.63 percent.

As Finley expected, the protests were met with criticism. Community members stood before the crowd carrying signs reading, “Take care of our own first,” and “Give Trump a chance.” Only a small number of protest critics showed up to the event, leaving the majority of the protesters with criticisms of the Trump administration.

Brent Race, a protester of the ban, expressed his own disdain for the president’s executive actions, claiming that they are based on racist thoughts about immigrants.

“I think every community should have their voice heard. I’m sure Huntington has a huge population of immigrants and we should stand by our community and our neighbors,” Race said.

The demonstration began at 5 p.m., with chants, signs, and a few planned speakers. After the speeches, Finley directed the crowd to march. The march looped around 4th Ave. and back to city hall, where other protesters were invited to speak.

Finley expressed that now is the time to voice their concerns.

“When we hear about history, we think ‘what if we were in that time? What would we have done?’ But we are, and this is the time right now, so I think that if we stand together we can really make a difference,” Finley said.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]