Over 2000 students and residents gathered in central Brighton to protest President Trump’s immigration policy which spilled out into an unplanned march shutting down the city centre, lasting into the night.
The rally was called only the day before as an “emergency demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan and UK complicity” in response to President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, his indefinite ban on Syrian refugees entering America and his planned UK state visit.
President Trump signed an executive order which he dubbed “extreme vetting” measures intended to “keep terrorists out” of the United States. He said: “We don’t want ’em here. We want to ensure we aren’t admitting into our country the very threats that our men and women are fighting overseas”.
Despite the protest being unplanned, it was peaceful. There were no arrests although flares were set off. Traffic ground to a halt as protesters took over the street and marched from the Town Hall to the train station amid chants of “hey, ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and “refugees are welcome here”.
At its peak the march was 20 people abreast.
A second, unplanned rally was held at the train station with protesters filling the road and chanting. However, the impetus continued and the march carried on to the seafront appearing to be led by a group of young people chanting “whose streets? Our streets!”.
The march carried onto The Level, ending around 9.30pm, more than three hours after the rally had been called.
One of the organisers, Ooffi Hardwick, said: “we had planned a static demo however the spirit and will of the people took over and it was amazing to see! It actually doesn’t surprise me that it was young people leading the march. Young people get an awful lot of stick for being ‘too online’, but being online informs anyone. Yes there’s fake news and yes we all probably take too many selfies but the fact is if you’re on Facebook you cannot avoid politics”.
“I think we all needed to come together and voice our anger and frustration in a collective space. Now it’s time for us all to turn that anger forward and get active and organised. Deportations of refugees and asylum seekers need to be challenged, the detention of innocent people needs to be challenged and we must continue to protest, the press and parliament cannot ignore us forever”, she added.
A Sussex University Senior Lecturer, Dr Lucy Robinson from the school of History, gave a speech at the rally. She said: “We need to fight back against the legitimisation of misogyny, the institutions of racism, enforcement of gender and sexual structures of oppression, the rolling back of even the most compromised formal acts of equality – to birth control or same sex marriage, the literal killing off of people with disabilities, the sick and the poor, economic precarity, and the escalation of imperialist militarisation”.
“Let’s remember that this is not a problem that is happening over there, somewhere else. This is happening here in our bubble by the sea– increase in experience of racism, increasing criminalisation of protest, cuts to our childrens’ services… We are all in it together – because they are coming for us all. Right now we have to fight the muslim ban. We know how this could end. We know where fascism leads”, she added.
Juliet Farley, a second year student, told The Badger this was the second demonstration she had attended. “I felt empowered by it as it was great to be part of a bigger movement that has had an impact. The atmosphere was great from my perspective, very inclusive and people were showing small acts of kindness. However, looking back I saw lots of families who might not have felt so comfortable with some of the chants used, like “Donald, I wanna (sic) know why you’re such a c**t’’.
Thousands of people took to the streets across the UK on January 30, part of a global wave of protests against what has been dubbed the “Muslim ban”. 10,000 marched in London alone, with protests in other places such as Edinburgh and Cardiff.
This series of protests came a week after the global Women’s March on Trump’s inauguration, when The Guardian estimated up to two million people worldwide demonstrated.
Over one million people have signed a petition demanding that Donald Trump should not be invited to meet the Queen because his “well documented misogyny and vulgarity would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty” at time of going to press. More people in Brighton have signed the petition than anywhere else in the UK, reaching 6,000 signatures in Brighton and 4,000 in Hove.
Speeches at the Brighton rally were also given by Sanctuary by the Sea, the Hummingbird Charity, Brighton Antifascists, two individuals listed on facebook by organisers as “local muslims talking about [their] experiences” and representatives of the Green Party and Labour Party.