Hundreds protest against Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees at Syracuse Hancock International Airport Sunday.

Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

Hundreds protest against Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees at Syracuse Hancock International Airport Sunday.

January 30, 2017

Hundreds Protest Trump Travel Ban at Syracuse Airport, Calling it a ‘Fascist Act’

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Hundreds of immigrants, college students, toddlers and concerned citizens converged on Syracuse Hancock International Airport Sunday evening to protest a recent executive order signed by President Donald Trump that halted travel to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

The Central New York Solidarity Coalition organized the rally at Terminal A and hundreds of people came from around Upstate New York to protest the executive order Trump signed on Friday, which also indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from being admitted to the U.S. and halted admission of refugees from any country for 120 days.

“Especially with the election of Donald Trump I’ve tried to really commit to taking more grassroots rebel action even though that’s something I don’t normally do,” said Lisset Pino ’17, who drove 50 miles from Ithaca to Syracuse for the protest.

Dozens of travelers from the seven countries included in Trump’s executive order — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — were detained at airports throughout the country over the weekend, prompting protests from Miami to Seattle.

Organizers said they did not believe anyone was detained at the Syracuse airport — which has only one international flight, to Canada — but that the location of the protest is a symbol of the city’s openness to refugees from around the world.

“The refugee community has contributed a tremendous amount to Syracuse … we love our refugees here,” said Joe Driscoll, an organizer with the CNY Solidarity Coalition. “The airport was the best symbolic way to show that because we want to welcome them here, not see this kind of scene.”

Driscoll and other organizers said the crowd peaked at 1,000 people, although police at the airport gave more conservative estimates of between 400 and 500 attendees in the baggage claim terminal, which was packed with protesters of all ages — some in strollers.

Protesters yelled into a loudspeaker and carried signs, many of which were filled with images of Lady Liberty and the Emma Lazarus sonnet about accepting the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” that is engraved inside the statue’s pedestal.

Other makeshift signs bore phrases like “Hate is not a foreign policy,” “Build bridges not walls” and “Impeach Pres. Bannon,” a reference to Stephen Bannon, the chief strategist and senior counselor to Trump.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who earlier this month said Syracuse would continue to be a sanctuary city for immigrants, attended the protest and told The Sun she was willing to forfeit federal funding to stand up for immigrant rights.

“It’s at times like this where you can decide, do you want to chase dollars that are going to evaporate or are you going to stand for your values?” Miner said. “And I think you’re seeing this community say, ‘we want to stand for our values.’”

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner addressed the crowd Sunday night and said Syracuse is "a city of immigrants."

Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

“Syracuse is a city of immigrants,” Miner added. “We have been very fortunate that we have had a burgeoning population [of refugees]. These are peaceful people who add to our community, and what I’ve seen the president do systematically in the past eight days is convey a message of hatred that is completely inconsistent with American values.”

Driscoll and another organizer, Brian Escobar, cited a Syracuse.com report that 220 refugees who had already been vetted and approved to travel to the city have had their “hopes of freedom dashed by the stroke of a pen.”

Jay Subedi, a refugee from Bhutan, said he came to the protest because he “believes in the people who hope to have a safe life and freedom, and a prosperous life in the U.S.”

At least a dozen police were on scene to monitor the protest, but reported no injuries or arrests.

Lovely Davis, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Upstate, said Trump’s executive order was a “fascist act,” and that people of color are especially affected by the order, which gives priority to Christians abroad.

“It’s so bigoted and biased and racist and I’m just here to destroy all of those things,” said Davis, a Buffalo native. “Now is the time when we need to get together … because ‘nationalism’ is a codeword for American fascism.”

Mayor Miner said she had been surprised by the number of people who attended Syracuse’s Women’s March and was surprised again by the hundreds who filled the airport’s lobby.

“It’s a Sunday night, everyone’s going to work tomorrow, it’s cold,” she said. “It’s pretty easy on a Sunday night at 7 o’clock to just be like, ‘you know what, I’ll like a Facebook page and call it a day,’ but you can see, there’s been a nerve touched and these people aren’t going away.”

Katie Sims ’20 contributed reporting to this story.

  • Cornell Grad Student

    These Leftist protestors are always so ugly lol

    20 year old men balding? haha

    Leftists have such poor genes

    • Lara

      What is this even contributing?

  • Cornell Grad Student

    Joe Driscoll sounds like he’s trying to get himself some of that muslim dick 😉

  • Cornell Grad Student

    yeah putting Americans first is fascist lol

    Let’s put others ahead of Americans – that makes total sense. Leftists are brain damaged

    • Lara

      A lot of the people detained are Americans… ban affects dual-citizenship. Not even going to address all the other racist parts of your comment…

      • Keep calm and Trump on

        dual citizenship = split loyalties

        pick a country

        for some of us, America is the only home we have: we don’t have the luxury of being able to move to greener pastures

        • Lara

          I’m confused, are you now implying that you want to move away from America because other countries are “greener pastures”, moments after supporting the immigration ban?

  • PaoliPete

    Syracuse is a city of immigrants. Just ask the Onondaga Nation.

  • Jason

    Syracuse is a mess. Google Syracuse News and every other day, there is a murder, rape, torture case, stabbing, etc.

    Just yesterday:

    “SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A fight early Sunday morning near Syracuse’s North Side led to a man being stabbed several times, according to Syracuse Police.
    The 26-year-old victim told officers that he was walking in the area of N. Alvord Street and Ash Street around 6:00 a.m. when he was confronted by three other men.

    The suspects began to fight with the victim and one of them ended up pulling out a folding pocket knife and stabbed the victim several times.

    The victim described the suspects as three black males in their 20’s, one wearing a beige sweatshirt and the other two were wearing black jackets with winter hats.”

    They should be focusing on their uncivilized parts of their city that are the hell holes the Trump is aiming to try to fix with jobs!

    • Lara

      This is true of every city in America… and all studies will tell you the majority of crimes and terroist actions committed are committed by American citizens, not immigrants or visitors. Google that…

      • the jade bunny

        what the fuck is a “terroist” ?

        is that like a taoist? a daoist?

  • borris batanov

    The Sun is drivel, crap, Leftist propaganda. Staff is 37% cowardly, spineless, conformist Asians. I used to work on the CDS. You’re little Eichmann, Nazi bugs who scurry for the cracks when the lights are turned on.

    Who’s paying for and organizing these “protests”? How come no one is asking THAT question? Is it Soros or the RUSSIANS?

    What a circus of painted whores and mental midgets.

  • Alum 09

    These bigoted and sad commenters are clearly not Cornell students, faculty, or staff. Whoever they are, they should be reminded of Cornell’s motto: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study” as they troll the Cornell student newspaper’s website.

    • the bear’s den

      anyone … so long as they didn’t vote for Trump

      Liberal double-think in action

      • Alum 09

        Please, crawl out of your bear den and see the light, don’t be so fearful

  • Grad Student, but not a racist hater.

    Exactly, Alum ’09. I love the conspiracy theory that George Soros is paying people, such as to travel to the SYR airport and protest. Hmm. I wonder how the pay is and if there are good benefits!

    America was founded by immigrants and we have gone through times where some outspoken people of the current population hated: Jewish people, Chinese, Irish, Italians… now the group the GOP loves to hate are 1.6 Billion citizens of the world. Muslims.

    “If you can differentiate between white Christians and the KKK/Westboro Church, then you can differentiate between Muslims and ISIS.” @LucyGabs

    So much hate with this GOP. I bet if Jesus flew into a US airport he, being a dark-skinned person from the Middle East would be detained.
    WWJD, GOP?

    • a syrian refugee

      and morons like you want to bring all 1.6 billion of them here … please go there and get yourself enriched