Students Stage Walkout in Protest of Trump Travel Ban and...
New York City students protest in Lower Manhattan. Jake Shore, WFUV News.
High school and college students in New York City staged a walkout in protest of President Trump's travel ban and the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.
The students rallied at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan at noon today many holding signs that read "Build Walls not Bridges" and chanting phrases like "This is What Democracy Looks Like". Students protested during the time Betsy DeVos was confirmed for Education Secretary and before Trump's travel ban was being challenged in appeals court for legality.
One of the central organizers for the event was Bronx high school senior Hebh Jamal. She's a Muslim-American, and she has been a student activist for the past two years. Jamal said she wanted to organize the walkout so that people understand students are just as affected by Trump's policies, and they also have a voice.
"The things that are happening in this world right now affects multiple types of students. We want to be considered as having an impact," Jamal said, "I helped organize this today because I felt students are never given a chance to speak their minds."
Jamal, channeling Reverend Martin Luther King, used the example of the civil rights movement to say how they are carrying on a tradition of student activism.
"Just [with] the civil rights movement, just how students there spoke their minds and resisted and got what they wanted and won, we need to do the same. We need to be the people at the forefront," said Jamal.
Many Muslim students gathered to challenge President Trump's travel ban, which they felt they were directly impacted by. Seventeen-year old Hawa Drama goes to Beacon High School in Hell's Kitchen where a number of her fellow students came out with her to protest. As a Muslim who comes from Mali, Drama worries about how Trump's travel ban could be a slippery slope.
"My family could be affected by this. At any given time, [Trump] could say it's all Muslim countries [which will get banned]," said Drama.
Gerell Frazier, another student from Beacon High School, said he felt compelled to protest based on who he is.
"As a person of color, a queer person of color, it's my job to stand up against any sort of injustice in my country, well my 'country.'' Frazier said. "If I'm given a voice, I don't see the need to sit back and watch as my rights and my loved one rights are under attack."
The narrow vote for Betsy DeVos' confirmation as Education Secretary also gave reason for students to protest, especially for one high school senior Syed Rahman.
"I'm super disappointed with our American government because they put someone who has no credentials in a spot who will be handling millions of dollars," said Rahman.
Organizer Hebh Jamal had a final message for students looking to be activists:
"I would just like to mention to all students that they are capable to doing this and even more. They are capable of being at the forefront of a movement and demanding that their rights be recognized," said Jamal.
Correction: February 7, 2017:
The name of Hawa Drama was changed to its correct spelling.