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Phoenix Joins Travel Ban
Protests, More To Come

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People gather at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Jan. 28 to protest President Donald Trumps travel ban.
Image by Wayne Schutsky.
Group Brought Together By Social Media Descends On Sky Harbor Airport Saturday Night To Oppose President Trump’s Travel Ban

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By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Jan. 29, 2017 — Protesters showed up at airports across the U.S. on Saturday, including Sky Harbor International in Phoenix, to voice outrage over the signing of President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned refugees and citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Police eventually encouraged the protesters to disperse, as the protest had not gotten an official permit from the city. According to sources, a similar, but permitted protest is planned for today, Sunday, at Sky Harbor International Airport, Terminal 4.

The order bans citizens from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. It also bans refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

No person from the countries on the ban list has committed a fatal terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 1975, according to a report from the CATO Institute.

Notably absent from the list are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E., the countries of origin for the terrorists responsible for 9/11 and also countries where Mr. Trump has business interests.

Notices began floating around Twitter in the early evening on Saturday about a possible protest at Sky Harbor. Protesters showed up just beyond the arrivals area in Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor starting at 6 p.m. with signs in hand and began chanting in support of accepting refugees and other immigrants into the country.

Chants included “Love, not hate, makes America great,” and “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.”

There were also a variety of handmade signs in the crowd, including ones that read “Without immigration, Trump would have no wives,” “All refugees welcome, deport Trump,” and “No ban, no wall.”

Most travelers passing by the protest reacted positively—giving thumbs up or chanting themselves—or ignored the protesters completely, though on two occasions passing travelers could be heard chanting their own pro ban sentiments.

Only a handful of people showed up early on, though the crowd swelled to 50 or so people by 6 p.m. The size of the crowd, which was small compared to other gatherings around the country, could be due to the fact that this was more of a symbolic protest against the ban as no immigrant or refugee travelers were being detained at Sky Harbor, according to the ACLU.

Protestors at other airports, such as JFK International in New York, were attempting to help free travelers detained by the ban.

At one point the crowd erupted in cheers when they learned that federal Judge Ann Donnelly had granted an emergency stay against the travel ban following a legal challenge by the ACLU on behalf of two men detained at JFK.

One of the men is Iraqi and served as an interpreter for U.S. military forces in Iraq, according to reports by CBS News, The New York Times and other outlets.

Despite the small size and peaceful nature of the crowd, the Phoenix Police Department had about 12 officers stationed at various points in Terminal 4 on all sides of protest, including one K-9 unit. Most of the officers were content to stand back and watch the protesters, though two officers continued to ask protesters, journalists and interested passersby to stand clear of the Arrivals/Departures screens and walkways.

One officer approached a protester to ask who organized the event. He was told that the protest did not have one central organizing group. Rather, it was a collection of people who cared about the issue and heard about the gathering on social media or through word of mouth.

At one point in the protest, another officer could be heard telling two Sky Harbor employees that the protest “was nothing Phoenix PD could not handle on its own” before assuring the women that the protesters were peaceful and not the “anarchists” who typically cause trouble.

The Sky Harbor protest lasted until about 7:30 p.m. when protesters were notified that they could no longer gather without proper permitting. It is not clear whether Sky Harbor employees or Phoenix Police notified the protesters about the permitting requirement.

The protesters then marched through Terminal 4 towards the elevator embankment while still chanting and holding their signs. A contingent of about seven Phoenix police officers followed behind the crowd to ensure it dispersed.
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