Despite the cold, close to 2,000 people, Penn students among them, gathered in City Center Saturday afternoon to march against President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders.
The event, called “March for Humanity,” started at 1 p.m. at Thomas Paine Plaza. Protesters of all ages bundled up in hats, scarves and heavy jackets and raised signs with slogans like, “Deport the Despot.” People chanted, "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all."
First year Nursing Ph.D student Jacqueline Bannon, said she is proud that communities have been so consistent in their activism since President Trump’s election. Just yesterday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Trump’s administration has sparked a “surge in protests” across the city.
For Bannon, it was Trump’s proposed plans for healthcare that brought her to the protest.
“As a nurse, I support the Affordable Care Act and expanding healthcare coverage for all, so rolling that back is something I’m deeply against,” she said.
For another protester, Penn Law student David Towriss, it was Trump’s executive orders to ban refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries that compelled him to march.
Towriss, who works in Penn Law’s transnational legal clinic to help refugees and asylum seekers, said he has been able to see first-hand “how terrifying this experience has been for those coming to the United States seeking refuge — those who are coming after escaping some of the most awful persecution.”
“The executive orders do not represent the views of most Americans,” he said, “and this is important for immigrants to know.”
Both Towriss and Bannon agreed that Penn students tend to have many commitments which can make it difficult to participate in demonstrations. However, Bannon said it is important to keep showing up to protests in order to prevent the normalization of the Trump administration’s rhetoric.
“I think when the time comes, you really need to act out,” she said. “There were times in the past when I was interested in the cause but maybe apprehensive about being out in the streets. But now, with the Trump administration, it is like enough is enough.”
“This is really important,” Towriss said, “it is just another burden that we have to bear alongside our academic and career plans because otherwise, we might wake up in four years and find a country completely different from the one we have.”
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