London hosted the largest protest as thousands descended on Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister, to voice their opposition to Donald Trump’s targeted anti-refugee immigration policy. The protesters came from all spheres of society, including students, teachers, nurses and lawyers to atheists, Muslims, Christians and Jews.
“We’re here today because we felt the desperate need to do something” said Hannah Fahy and Rachel Sewell “Both of us are teachers and a lot of the kids we teach are refugees that come unaccompanied. We’ve seen the power that education can have to change their lives so we think it should be available for everyone. We’re terrified that if Trump lets this ban go through then that kind of ideology is going to spread across the world and we’re going to go back about one hundred and fifty years.”
One demonstrator, Tom Ellis, said, “It’s not a time to stand around and do nothing. I wanted to come down and show solidarity with those whose lives have been put on hold by the Muslim ban. It’s racist and it’s wrong.” He added.
This sentiment was shared by the masses and emphatic chants of “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here” could be heard thundering down Whitehall as the crowd united in support of Muslims that have been denied entry to the United States.
Sara from London is ‘livid’ and sees “no practical reason why Theresa May has to be so far up Donald Trump’s arse”. Although she recognises the need for Britain to have a relationship with the United States, she believes that “we absolutely have to condemn the actions of Donald Trump over the last week”.
Keith Flint from south London is also angry at the tone of Trump’s first week in office: “It feels like we’re going back to the 1930s. The extreme right is on the rise everywhere in the West. At some point we’ve got to dig our heels in.”
Meanwhile, Marianne Cantwell let the eternal spirit of Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) do the talking: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
While the majority of protesters were from London, others were quick to point out that they were not. Susanna, lamenting the first week of the Trump presidency, declared, “I’m actually American but I’m outraged at what is going on in my home country.” US diplomats are circulating a draft memo of dissent which argues that the executive order will not make America safer and that it “runs counter to core American values”. Meanwhile, outgoing President Obama has also criticised President Trump’s travel ban, breaking with tradition to claim “American values are at stake.”
Police at the protest were in good spirits and, when asked, a Public Support Unit Commander could report no instances of concern with the conduct of the demonstrators. A handful of flares were sparked to lift the spirits of the protest but the Commander was not worried as flares are only an issue if they are projected into the crowd, which they were not.
An elderly man called Graeme feared the wider significance of President Trump’s actions. When asked why he was at Downing Street, he responded, “I want to make my voice heard. This is history.” Be aware, Mr. President, the world is watching and the people have shown they will not stand idly by. History does not look kindly on those who seek to divide through xenophobia and hate.