BATTERY PARK — Thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Battery Park Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry to refugees and other travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations.
The protesters, led by a host of elected city, state, and congressional officials, then marched to Foley Square.
Caleb Pam, 28, of Brooklyn, said he was motivated to come to the rally after seeing a teenager hurl racial slurs on the subway on Sunday.
"This should not be happening in 2017,” he said. "For anyone who's not speaking up, they have to speak out."
Although the rally was announced less than 24 hours in advance, so many people had arrived in Battery Park by the official start time of 1 p.m. that the crowd was backed up to the edges of the park. And several hours later, the march stretched more than a mile and a half from Battery Park to Foley Square.
The rally included speeches from Sen. Chuck Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Letitia James, along with activists including Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York and Javier Valdés of Make the Road New York.
With chants of “No ban, no wall,” and “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” the march crawled up Church Street, took a right on Reade Street, and eventually flooded into Foley Square.
Nearly an hour after the front of the march arrived in Foley Square protesters continued to pour into the area, and a group of Muslim marchers took a moment to pray, laying down mats in next to the “Triumph of the Human Spirit” sculpture at the center of the plaza.
Junaid Kapadia, 24, of Queens, led the prayer, and told DNAinfo New York he and his family showed up to protest what he called Trump’s singling out of Muslims by executive order.
“It’s pretty obvious that this ban on the seven nations, even though it’s not called a Muslim ban, it’s a smokescreen to provide a reason to ban Muslims,” Kapadia said. “Whether you call it a Muslim ban or not, it’s unconstitutional.”