Nearly 1,000 people protested at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Sunday afternoon. They’re against President Trump's executive order halting the Syrian refugee program and suspending immigration from seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days. The move has ignited protests across the U. S. Trump says America will begin issuing visas to all countries impacted once again after a review of security policies.
No one at Hopkins was detained because of Trump’s executive order. But a group still organized a protest against it along with similar protests at airports across the country.
The march lasted several hours, snaking through baggage claim and check-in and outside the airport several times.
“This is dearly appreciated by every single Arab, every single Muslim, every single life that is being threatened by this,” a woman wearing a hijab said over the megaphone.
The protest was peaceful and Cleveland Director of Port Control Robert Kennedy says operations ran normally throughout the day.
“Passengers and protesters alike all were accommodating for each other. Everybody remained safe,” said Kennedy.
There were a few tense moments at the bottom of an escalator when police blocked protesters and a demonstrator yelled obscenities in the face of an officer. Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams arrived and helped deescalate that situation.
Ihab Wattar and his family participated in the march. He came to America 30 years ago from Syria, one of the seven countries included in President Trump’s travel ban.
“My family is overseas also. I believe they have the right to come here and visit us,” said Wattar.
Wattar is an engineer and also teaches at Cleveland State University. His five children were born in America.
“Mr. President, I can tell him that this is really wrong what you are doing. You are making really big problem between all people. You are creating all this hatred and I do believe this is not right,” said Wattar.
The airport is city property. The Director of Port Control told us that it was his understanding that this group did not have a permit to protest there. But with extra police on hand, the city decided to let the group demonstrate, get their point across and then leave. All in all, the demonstration lasted about four hours.