By Stefanie Donahue
The words “May these gates never be closed” inscribed on the Peace Arch monument echoed the sentiment of weekend demonstrators on January 29.
A crowd estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 people flocked to Peace Arch Park for a rally held from 3:30 p.m. to dusk in response to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump. The order halts all refugee admission for 120 days, indefinitely bans Syrian refugees from admission and prohibits individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the country for 90 days. The action spurred nationwide protests after travelers were detained at airports across the U.S.
Representatives from Washington, including congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01), U.S. senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) all spoke out against the orders. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson initiated a lawsuit against the President, the Department of Homeland Security and other high-ranking officials.
“I was feeling really saddened by the orders that were signed last week,” said Bellingham resident Jenn Mason. She helped organizer Jesse Stanton get the word out using Facebook. Nearly 5,000 were invited to join on the event page.
Mason said she’s been a vocal proponent of social justice issues in the past, but the Peace Arch rally was something new. Bellingham City councilmember April Barker and Whatcom County councilmember Todd Donovan attended the event, Mason said.
Another Facebook page, “No Ban, No Wall – U.S.,” announces another Peace Arch demonstration slated for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 5. At press time, about 450 people had been invited to participate.
Photos by Jack Kintner