Momentum York, a grassroots network emerged from the “Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader” campaign, organised an “emergency demo” on the 30th January against Trump and his recent executive order banning entrance to the U.S. by travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The event also followed the petition signed by over 1,800,000 people asking that President Donald Trump not be invited for an official state visit to the UK in order that it not cause an ‘embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen’.
The demo gained rapid and significant popularity with over 1000 people registering their interest in the event and 764 people confirming their attendance on Facebook.
York’s demo concurred with a host of anti ‘Muslim ban’ protests planned across the UK. England alone planned to host 21 protests in several cities towns, including York, alongside the 3 to be held in Wales and 6 held in Scotland, according to iNews.
The event began with speeches made by the University of York Student Union’s Academic Officer Tamaki Laycock, York’s MP Rachael Maskell and Saher Ahmed, the former President of the Islamic Society at the University of York.
Saher Ahmed’s speech devised for the event maintained “fear and ignorance” be “tackled through hope, love and knowledge”. “We all have the capability to love others for the sake of humanity, to hope in a better future” she said “have those difficult conversations. I extend a hand to you all, to come ask me about my religion, about my ethnicity, about me as a person and I urge each and every one of you to extend your hands to others”.
Academic Officer Tamaki Laycock, after speaking at the demo, said: “As Academic Officer, I’ve had the privilege of working with students and staff from all over. The Student Union is here to offer solidarity to those affected by current and proposed policy, while working towards a more inclusive and global community.”
There was little police presence during the demo and the short march from St. Helen’s Square, down Parliament Street, returning to St. Helen’s Square via Coney Street. However, one protester’s sign which read “I’ll punch a nazi, I don’t give a fuck” was confiscated by police.
The Facebook event provoked discussion when it was asked several times if those of other political alignments to the event organisers, considering the Labour allegiance of Momentum York, were welcome to attend. In response, Momentum York publicly posted on Facebook prior to the demo: “we are Momentum and we called the demo, however, this is not a rally, it is not party specific or about Jeremy Corbyn or Labour. This is about anyone who opposes the #MuslimBan and Britain’s complicity standing together in solidarity with people across the UK and the world”.
Post-demo, York Castle Museum have asked, via the Facebook event, willing protesters to donate their placards and signs to the curators of the museum.