The Examiner

P’ville Joins Protests Against Trump’s Order on Travel Restrictions

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Some of the close to 300 protestors who took to Pleasantville’s downtown to demonstrate Sunday against President Donald Trump’s executive order imposing travel restrictions on people from seven mostly Muslim countries.

Pleasantville joined the swelling numbers of communities across the nation Sunday afternoon that protested President Donald Trump’s executive order to restrict travel by refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Carrying signs and chanting slogans such as “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” close to 300 local residents met at the Memorial Plaza gazebo and circled downtown several times before singing “We Shall Overcome.”

They pledged to step up pressure and force elected officials at all levels of government to denounce Trump’s executive order and vowed to continue communicating their outrage until the order is rescinded.

“This is not what the country is about and we feel it’s really important to make our voices heard,” said Amanda Dundas, a village resident and a member of the recently formed group Indivisible Pleasantville, which organized the demonstration over the weekend through social media. “We’re a nation of immigrants and this is not something we find acceptable.”

The Pleasantville protest was scheduled after demonstrations were held at airports throughout the United States on Saturday. More demonstrations were held in towns and cities nationwide on Sunday. Dozens of travelers from the seven countries –Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – have been detained, many of whom held valid visas or green cards.

A large number of protestors on Sunday brought their children to walk with them. Passing cars honked horns in solidarity.

Victoria Neilson, a Pleasantville resident and an immigration attorney with the Immigrant Justice Corps who was at JFK Airport early Sunday morning, said the notion that refugees from mostly Muslim countries are dangerous is “made up” and is nothing but “hate against Muslim people.”

The vetting process for the typical refugee takes about two years and has been effective, she said.

“There’s no one more grateful to be an American than someone who has fled violence somewhere else, and so I can’t think of a more core value for our government to attack than being a beacon of hope for people fleeing from around the world,” said Neilson, who added that the scene at the airport was marked by confusion, including one woman who was detained for 29 hours. “I can’t help think of something more upsetting for this administration to do.”

Many of the demonstrators remarked how they were appalled at the religious test that is apparently part of Trump’s executive order. Evan Kingsley and his wife, Dara Meyers-Kingsley, said each of their families escaped Nazi Germany and found refuge in the United States.

“I’m particularly incensed by what happened this past weekend and it’s an issue that hits home for me because my own father and grandparents, just as my wife’s mother and grandparents, were refugees from Germany in the late 1930s and if it were not for the welcome of America, I wouldn’t be here today, nor would my family,” Kingsley said.

Marty Schwimmer, another Pleasantville resident, said he understands those who want to protect the country from terrorists. On Sept. 11, 2001, he lived in downtown Manhattan and saw firsthand the death and destruction on 9/11. However, for the United States to target specific groups of people is inexcusable and will ultimately fail, he said.

“I’m as concerned about security as anyone else,” Schwimmer said. “I think that if we’re going to do extreme vetting, let’s do extreme vetting of people who own assault rifles. Let’s do that first. Terrorism is a real situation, we must do it correctly, and I’m in favor of careful vetting, effective vetting. Extreme vetting is a sort of branding and sells hatred.”

Indivisible Pleasantville co-founder Nicole Asquith said the organization was formed the day after Election Day, when she and several friends were concerned about the direction of the country. While they were initially uncertain about the direction of the group, they have decided to address local issues and also weigh in on larger issues as they occur.

Asquith said the response from the grassroots group during the past week has surprised her.

“But clearly people feel very strongly about this situation,” she said.

The Chappaqua Interfaith Council and the New Castle Community Inclusion and Diversity Committee have scheduled a public demonstration in opposition to the executive order on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the town’s gazebo on South Greeley Avenue.




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