Protesters in opposition to President Donald Trump’s order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States gathered at several major airports around the country on Saturday.
Following in the footsteps of large-scale protests, such as during Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S., social media was used to both broadcast gathering locations and document who was being detained at the airports. News coverage soon followed and everyone from politicians to artists began to make statements on social media.
Trump told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office earlier on Saturday that his order was “not a Muslim ban” and said the measures were long overdue.
“It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” he said.
More than 1,000 people gathered for a daylong protest at John F. Kennedy International Airport at Terminal 4 parking.
Working Families, a growing progressive political organization, made a Facebook Live video after 3 p.m. on Saturday asking people to join the protest. The video went viral and has since received more than 15 million views:
Hameed Jhalid Darweesh, who worked with the U.S. in Iraq in a number of roles, including as an interpreter for the U.S. Army, was one of the people detained at JFK.
“What I do for this country? They put the cuffs on,” Darweesh said when he was released shortly after noon on Saturday. “You know how many soldiers I touch by this hand?”
Jim Axelrod, anchor of CBS Saturday Evening News, tweeted about Darweesh’s detainment:
Just to be clear: Iraqi refugee held in cuffs for 17 hours at JFK before being allowed in was an interpreter for US troops during the war.
— Jim Axelrod (@JimAxelrod) January 28, 2017
Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, an Iraqi in route to Houston who was detained, was released Saturday night.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) tweeted on Saturday:
These men risked their lives for years to keep our troops safe. One was with the 101st Airborne. This is no way to treat our allies.
— Jim Cooper (@repjimcooper) January 28, 2017
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office tweeted:
LITERALLY on the ground. Volunteer lawyers are working pro-bono on a Saturday preparing habeus corpus petitions for detainees at JFK. pic.twitter.com/ddUeQBi7AY
— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 28, 2017
Vahideh Rasekh, a Ph.D. student at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was also detained on Saturday.
She was released at around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday after nearly 20 hours of detention.
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) January 29, 2017
The crowd outside JFK Terminal 4 has grown ENORMOUS pic.twitter.com/RAUMX9EBhg
— Noah Hurowitz (@NoahHurowitz) January 28, 2017
Washington, D.C. Area
More than 100 protesters gathered near the baggage claim area of Washington Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C. They held signs and chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear, Muslims are welcome here.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was present and spoke with the protesters.
“We have come too far as a nation,” Booker said. “The rights that we stand for, the rights of religious freedom, the rights that we have fought for, civil rights … are American rights. What is going on right now is in violation of those rights.”
— Matt Yurus (@Matt_Yurus) January 29, 2017
An 88-year-old man and his 83-year-old wife, who are both in wheelchairs, had green cards but were still detained for hours. Their granddaughter told The Daily Beast her grandmother recently had a stroke and her grandfather is legally blind.
“They really weren’t treating them very nicely,” she said of her grandparents’ time in detention. “They took a lot of their stuff.”
What was taken included their medication.
Iranian green card holders, age 88 and 83, both disabled. Were detained for hours pic.twitter.com/3fvGTrBWYy
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) January 29, 2017
After several hours of questioning, an Iranian mother was reunited with her five-year-old son. The boy had been traveling with another family member on a flight and she waited for hours until he was released to her, according to WJLA.
A veteran drove two hours with his son to participate in the protest.
Iraq vet w/ 4 Purple Hearts, drove two hours to Dulles w/ his son.
Nobody called him. He just came. Why?
“Not what I fought for.” pic.twitter.com/pAe50ugtlI
— Mike Breen (@M_Breen) January 28, 2017
At Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, Rep. John Lewis waited for information on the processing of Iranian families returning to the city.
— Marissa Mitchell (@MarissaMFOX5) January 29, 2017
Kasim Reed, major of Atlanta, tweeted at 11:38 p.m.:
At @ATLairport right now. All eleven individuals who were detained at Hartsfield-Jackson airport have been cleared & released.
— Kasim Reed (@KasimReed) January 29, 2017
There’s a sit down now at international arrivals SFO. People not moving until attorneys allowed in. pic.twitter.com/b3jiNfhN6T
— Sana Saleem (@sanasaleem) January 29, 2017
According to USA Today, protests also took place at airports in Boston (100 people), Chicago (1,000), Dallas (800), Denver (200), Houston (100), Los Angeles (300), Minneapolis (100), Newark (120), Philadelphia (200), San Diego (300) and Seattle (1,000).
On Saturday, artist Kadir Nelson tweeted a photo of his piece “So Together” encouraging diversity:
— Kadir Nelson (@KadirNelson) January 29, 2017