We went to the Donald Trump protest in Bristol last night
Over 3000 people gathered on College Green
It happened, Trump followed through on his bullshit.
He has been president for a week and a half and is already using his presidential powers to limit access to reproductive healthcare, ban Muslims and build a wall on the southern border with Mexico. I cannot fault Trump on his commitment to the mandate he was elected on, but like many members of the international community I am horrified by the destructive consequences that his actions are already having.
Not only are these executive orders extreme, they are of dubious legality, as banning swathes of legal residents from entering the USA on the basis of their nationality or religion would be argued by many to be unconstitutional.
It may be all too easy to make fun of him with his orange face, tiny hands and ill fitting suit, but the fact remains that this a dangerous demagogue whose election and time in power looks set to be one of the most contentious in living memory.
Of course there will be some genius moments of satire, Alec Baldwin’s characterisation of Trump on SNL is not going to be retired any time soon, but these moments of humour and tongue in cheek mockery belie the reality of what he has the potential to do.
After all, you can caricature Hitler’s moustache and Nazi goose steps, but that will not change the fact that Hitler and the Nazis systematically murdered millions of people in the Holocaust.
The parallels with the 1930s are being made left right and centre, and as history has a tendency to repeat itself people are probably right to be afraid of what a Trump presidency means long term if you are a Muslim, if you are black (or indeed any person of colour), if you are LGBTQIA+, if you are a woman.
This hatred of diversity and tolerance that Trump epitomises is the reason why so many people gathered across the UK and USA to protest the Muslim ban. In Bristol last night there were over 3000 people gathered together on College Green to protest this travel ban, and Donald Trump’s planned state visit.
There were people from all over the city and from all kinds of backgrounds, some of whom are directly affected by this travel ban. Notably, this includes the Labour Counsellor for Lawrence Hill- Hibaq Jamar who expressed her incredulity at the ban: ‘I was born in Somalia and I was extremely surprised to find that I along with a Conservative Iraqi born MP were banned from entering the United States- I’ve no idea what we’ve done wrong!’.
The Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees, echoed these sentiments of indignation and outrage, as he said that Trump has been given ‘moral cover for his moral failings’, and called for the city of Bristol to provide ‘not only political but practical support for those cities of sanctuary in the US that are taking a stand on protecting their undocumented migrants and migrants in general’ and for us to engage with ‘all those networks in the United states that are asking the world to stand with them as I think they literally try to save their democracy’.
The Chair for Building the Bridge and a member of the Council for Bristol Mosques Zaheer Shabir said that ‘It is right that we stand in solidarity and unity in raising our voices that these policies are outright discriminatory and not conducive to any society across the world.’, also noting that ‘I hope that Theresa May realises that when it comes to standing up to racism it also means to stand up to the super and mighty USA’.
Thangnam Debbonairre, the MP for Bristol West was in Parliament on the night of the march, but she wrote a statement to be read at the protest: ‘I am angry, angry for all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim that that dreadful man is daring to try to spread hate around the world. On Friday it was Holocaust Memorial Day and I signed the book of remembrance the previous week because it is essential that all politicians especially our Prime Minister show leadership against the hatred and bigotry that led to the Holocaust.
For every time a non Jew turned away from the discrimination against Jews this helped pave the path towards the extermination of millions. Trump is saying that people I know to be good people, whose country of origin is a Muslim country are not welcome in the US.
He is behaving as if women are second class citizens. He is building walls when he should be building bridges. Now I don’t agree with banning Trump from out country, that’s his level. But, there should be no state visit…and if he decided to visit we must show him what we think of him!’
Students also turned out to the protest, including the president of the UoB Islamic Society who said ‘I am a human being and I don’t know what I need to do to prove myself’.
I must say, if there is one advantage of this disgusting excuse of a head of state dominating the headlines and political sphere is the political activism and unity of all kinds of people, some of whom would never have engaged in politics or direct action.
Bristol is a city that hates Donald Trump and all he stands for, we welcome refugees, Muslims and all marginalised people. After all, love Trumps hate.