Washington, DC – Thousands of demonstrators gathered in cities across the United States on Saturday to protest President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, and advocate for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“We don’t believe in borders. We don’t believe in walls. We don’t believe in deportation. This is one continent together,” Sebastian Medina-Tayac, a member of the Piscataway Indian Nation, preached from a stage set up in Lafayette Square across from the White House on June 30, according to The Washington Post.
Organizers had touted the expectation that 50,000 protesters would be descending on Washington, DC, but by midday, it became clear that actual attendance numbers for the pro-immigration demonstration were well below expectations.
The Washington Post reported that organizers claimed that aerial photographs showed that the number of attendees was still in “the tens of thousands.”
Immigrants, legal and undocumented, told their stories to a rapt audience, and every time the government or law enforcement was mentioned, people in the crowd booed and erupted into chants of “shame shame shame.”
“We have three main demands,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, told The Washington Post. “Reunite families now, end family internment camps, and end the zero-humanity policy that created this humanitarian crisis and chaos in the first place.”
Opponents of restrictive immigration policies handed out signage for marchers to carry, and passed out bracelets that said “Return the Children,” as organizers trooper a bevy of A-List celebrities across the stage to denounce President Trump.
Alicia Keys and America Ferrera, who is herself the child of Honduran immigrants, took the microphone to read letters from parents and grandparents who said U.S. immigration policies had caused them to be separated from their children.
Lin-Manuel Miranda sang the lullaby from his award-winning musical “Hamilton” a capella, and dedicated it to the “parents right now who can’t sing lullabies to their kids,” The Washington Post reported.
The cheering from the crowd was deafening, and meant to get the attention of lawmakers; however, President Trump and his family were not in town to hear it. The President spent the weekend in New Jersey where he is said to be meeting with potential Supreme Court nominees.
It was a star-studded week in the nation’s capital, and the U.S. Capitol Police arrested actress Susan Sarandon along with hundreds of other mostly-female protesters at the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday, after they blocked the atrium and hallways in an effort to stop work in the building.
U.S. Capitol Police Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said officers had arrested 575 protesters for unlawfully demonstrating in the atrium of the office building, FOX News reported.
Protesters had the option to peacefully demonstrate outside the Hart building without being arrested, police said. However, they chose to stop business in the building while they chanted slogans, waved signs, and covered themselves in foil emergency blankets.
Representative Pramila Jayapal (D – Washington) volunteered herself to be arrested with the other protesters, and quickly took to social media afterwards to brag about her efforts.
“I was just arrested with 500+ women and @WomensMarch to say @realDonaldTrump’s cruel zero-tolerance policy will not continue. Not in our country. Not in our name. June 30 we’re putting ourselves in the street again,” Jayapal tweeted.
Police said an estimated 3,000 people protested in support of reuniting illegal immigrant children with their parents in downtown Dallas on Saturday, WFAA reported.
Simultaneously, police were arresting demonstrators who got into a scuffle in front of the ICE office. March organizers were quick to disavow responsibility for the melee that resulted in at least five arrests, and blamed an “independent group” with whom they had no connection.
In Philadelphia, protest organizers claimed 3,000 attendees as well, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The protesters also chanted “Shut Down Berks,” along with calls to abolish ICE, referring to the Berks Detention Center located about 70 miles from Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
As the planned demonstration came to an end, the rally became a march, and protesters broke through a line of police officers on bikes to advance on City Hall, blocking traffic as they went, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“No justice, no peace. Take your seat, and f--k the police!” they chanted as they marched.
The march ended at the ICE field office near Eighth and Arch Streets, where protesters screamed at officers and chanted “shame” as police stood in silence, protecting the building.