Hundreds of New York students walked out of their schools on Tuesday in protest of Trump’s immigration ban. Braving the rain to rally in Foley Square, the students toted anti-Trump and pro-immigrant banners, speaking out against the ban and the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.
New York City Public Advocate Leticia James spoke at the event, telling the gathered students, “This is a learning space. This is a classroom. This is a lesson in civic history.”
The protest was organized by 17-year-old Hebh Jamal, a Palestinian-American from the Bronx, and cosponsored by the New York Immigration Coalition, the Arab American Association of New York, and MPower Change.
Once the speakers concluded, James marched up the block with student leaders behind a banner from the New York Immigration Coalition, trailed by youth waving the large, rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community. The crowd reached the front of the New York Citizenship and Immigration Services building where they stopped to continue chanting.
Across the street, young activists faced off in a heated debate with a middle-aged man who accused them of being brainwashed by the media. The dissenter, conflating the democratic socialist rhetoric of Bernie Sanders’ campaign with that of National Socialism, declared the students Nazis.
The protest continued without major incident in front of the NYCIS, confined by police barricades, until momentum flagged and the students dispersed. Of all the signs carried by students at the march, perhaps the most poignant—and promising—was the one reminding passers-by that these kids would be voting in 2020.