Advertisement
California

Backers and opponents of Trump travel ban hold dueling rallies at LAX

Opponents of President Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration began rallying in front of Tom Bradley International Terminal around 11 a.m. They were joined about an hour later by a smaller group of travel ban supporters who stationed th

Dozens of opponents and supporters of President Trump’s sweeping travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries faced off at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, one day after a federal judge temporarily suspended the ban.

Opponents of the ban began rallying in front of Tom Bradley International Terminal about 11 a.m. They were joined about an hour later by a group of ban supporters who stationed themselves across the roadway. 

On one side of the road was a bearded man wrapped in an American flag holding a sign that said, “We love our Muslim neighbors.” On the other side, another man in a beard, also wrapped in an American flag, waved his sign high: “Jihad is unAmerican.”

It was one of several similar demonstrations held Saturday around the country. For the seventh consecutive day protesters opposing the immigration ban assembled outside the international terminal at LAX and waved signs like “We will not normalize hate” and “No ban. No wall. The whole world is watching.”

Advertisement

There were about 100 anti-ban demonstrators and their chants were led by a group of young women in hijabs who all attend prayers at the the Islamic Center of Hawthorne. One of the women used a megaphone to urge the group to be respectful of the Trump supporters.

“Let’s keep this peaceful,” she said. “The are exercising their 1st Amendment rights just as we are exercising our 1st Amendment rights.” 

The pro-Trump group was stationed across four lanes of traffic from the anti-ban protesters. The two groups were separated by a metal barricade and about two dozen police officers with helmets hanging from their belts.

Advertisement

The pro-ban assemblage was smaller — about two dozen strong, but their signs were bigger. They read, “Make America Safe Again” and “No Jobs No Country” and “Help Americans First.”

They chanted, “Trump, Trump, all the way!”

Across the road the anti-ban protesters shouted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Jennifer Morita Kerr, a retired teacher from Hacienda Heights, was wearing a sign that said “Japanese Americans against the ban. Immigrants welcome.”

“I’m here because this happened to my family,” she said. “My father, my grandparents and my great grandparents were all put in internment camps. They lost everything.”

“We can’t just sit back and let it happen again,” she said.

Across the roadway, Trump supporter Loretta Sanchez, 50, of Hesperia said she showed up to support “our president, our country, God and family.”

“Our president is looking out for us,” she said. “He’s being a man of his word.”

Advertisement

Just then a car drove past and the driver honked and yelled, “We don’t want Trump!”

“Too late,” Sanchez said.

No arrests have been made, police said. The crowd was minuscule compared to last Sunday, when thousands of protesters gathered at LAX, rallying outside terminals, marching on roadways and blocking traffic in response to Trump’s order.

On Friday night, the Department of Homeland Security suspended enforcement of the travel ban after a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order against major parts of Trump’s executive order, which is effective nationwide. The order was in response to lawsuits filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota.

The State Department, which “provisionally revoked” 60,000 visas since the president signed his executive order on Jan. 27, said Saturday it had started re-accepting those visas from people in the countries affected. Trump’s White House has said it will ask for an emergency stay of the judge’s order, arguing the president’s actions were lawful.

Firass Halawi, 26 said he felt compelled to attend Saturday’s anti-ban protest.

“I’m in law school and I’m Muslim,” he said. “I had no choice.”

He applauded the 10 women who stood in the center of the protesters, leading the chanting.

Advertisement

“This movement needs to be led by young Muslim people,” he said. “I love that it’s women in hijab running this.”

Halawi grew up in Glendale and is in law school at UCLA.

Earlier in the day he wandered over to talk to the Trump supporters and asked if he could take their picture with his Polaroid. They declined until he told them his brother was a Marine.

“Then the guy was like, ‘I’m a Marine too’ and he got everyone to get in the picture,” he said.

deborah.netburn@latimes.com

ALSO

Southern California bike race ends with competitor dangling off bridge after chain-reaction crash

Explosive device detonated inside Pasadena Cheesecake Factory; police seek suspect; no injuries

San Bernardino deputy caught on video threatening to ‘create’ charges and send man to jail


UPDATES:

3:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with more comments from demonstrators. 

2:40 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional comments from rally participants.

1:45 p.m.: This article was updated with details of the rallies and remarks from a protest leader.

Noon: This article was updated with the start of the rallies and photos.

This article was originally posted at 11:50 a.m.


Advertisement