Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days inspired a crowd of several hundred (maybe a thousand?) to gather in Centennial Park in Tampa’s Ybor City on Sunday afternoon. The people were united in sharing their extreme disapproval of Trump’s decision, creating the second day of national protests against his administration in the first nine days of his presidency.
The order also barred Syrian refugees from entering the country immediately, and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“It’s never right to be racist,” said state Representative Sean Shaw. “It’s never the right to time to discriminate against people because of their religion. It’s never the right time to go up against everything America stood for.”
Shaw was the first public official to address the crowd. Other lawmakers in the crowd included (at least) three Tampa City Council members – Luis Veira, Yolie Capin and Guido Maniscalco.
Shaw is the son of Leander Shaw Jr., who was the second black Supreme Court justice in Florida history, and the first to serve as its chief. Sean Shaw wasn’t around for the civil rights marches from the early 1960’s, but he said this was the equivalent in 2017.
“This is what we should be doing,” he said, energized about the moment at hand. “Our children, and our grandchildren, are going to want to know – what were we doing at this time? And this is what we ought to be able to tell them we did.”
Several people in the audience applauded the decision by the two federal judges in New York and Massachusetts who temporarily blocked part of Trump’s immigration order.
“This is why we have a checks and balance system,” said Maniscalco, the son of two immigrants. “People that are flying in here with visas are now being detained allegedly indefinitely in the airport?” he said disapprovingly. “It makes no sense.”
“I believe anything is possible as long as we stand up for what we believe in, because they serve us, and we’re telling them that we do not accept what they’re doing, so we’re not going to stop,” said Brandon resident Alexandra Acevedo , who said she really didn’t want to be protesting every weekend, but might have to. She added that the Democratic Party really needed to start pushing back strongly.
A young Tampa resident named Samantha (no last name offered) said the two judges responses were reassuring.
“We’re not happy. We’re not going to take it,” she said. “We’re going to fight against it,” she said, arguing that Democrats should get ready to start calling for impeachment, because “this is ridiculous.”
Newly-elected Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera said the opposition to Trump’s executive order really has transcended party lines, with many Americans upset. He said the idea of closing up the country to people fleeing atrocities was “morally questionable.”