Despite the cold, masses huddled in the shade of the Greek Amphitheater of Denver’s Civic Center Park Saturday afternoon, spilling into the sunny lawn beyond its courtyard and collecting in the grassy space facing the Denver Art Museum. Members of the crowd held signs with slogans like “No Ban No Wall,” “We Are All Muslim,” or pictures of the Statue of Liberty with the words “Did I Stutter?” scrawled beneath it.
An estimated several thousand people gathered Saturday afternoon to participate in the Protect Our Muslim Neighbors Rally, organized by Queen Phoenix, a leader of the advocacy group Community for Unity, and other local activists, to show support for Colorado’s Muslim population. The demonstration took place one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that halts the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, and prohibits refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. That ban was recently lifted, at least temporarily, by a federal judge. Trump had campaigned on the unsubstantiated claim that Syrian refugees pose a threat to U.S. security. (Read about his likening of Syrian refugees to snakes at a Denver rally last summer).
Speakers included Mayor Michael Hancock, State Representative Joe Salazar, local poet Amal Kassir, Jamie Laurie of the Flobots, Justin Normand of internet fame, and other local poets, community organizers, Muslim speakers, and religious leaders.
The event lasted nearly four hours and was peppered with break-out chants, ample usage of poetry and music, and many personal stories pertaining to immigration and religious freedom.
“We will not let the racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, the nastiness characterized in our president’s executive orders tear this city or this nation apart,” Mayor Hancock said at the rally.
Organizers and Denver police were not able to provide an official crowd size estimation. More than 9,000 people RSVP’d to the Facebook event, and another 21,000 expressed interest in it.
—All photos by Haley Gray