Protesters rally in Times Square against Trump immigration policies

People carry posters during a rally in support of equality and tolerance, supporting American Muslims and against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, in Times Square, New York, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.

AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

NEW YORK -- More than a thousand people of various faiths rallied in New York City in support of Muslim Americans and to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Other protests were also held over the weekend across the country. 

The “I Am A Muslim Too” rally was held in Times Square on Sunday and was organized by several groups, including the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. 

The protesters waved American flags, held signs saying “No Muslim Ban,” and chanted “We are One.” 

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the peaceful rally, saying “we have to dispel the stereotypes” and that America is “a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs.” 

“Regardless of your faith or your background or where you were born, this is your city,” de Blasio said, CBS New York reported. “And to everybody, this is your country too. This is your country too. And think about the origins of this country -- a country founded by people fleeing religious persecution. A country founded to respect all faiths and all beliefs. This is who we are as Americans, and this must be protected.” 

Mr. Trump has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration. He has also called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.  

Actress Susan Sarandon criticized the Trump administration.

“We are standing here at this moment in history when it no longer possible to be neutral. If you are silent, then you are complicit,” she said. “We are here because we will not be cogs in this machine that is dismantling our Constitution; that is dismantling our Bill of Rights.”

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who headlined the rally, said the Muslim community was being used as a scapegoat, but that diversity “will prevail.”

“All of the diversity that we see here today will prevail, and America will go back to moving toward a more loving place,” he said.

Chelsea Clinton tweeted about the protest, indicating it was the first her daughter has attended.

“Thank you to all who organized #IAmAMuslimToo today - Charlotte’s 1st protest rally. #NoBanNoWallNoRaids,” she tweeted.

Other protests took place over the weekend in cities including Boston and Chicago.

In Boston, hundreds of scientists, environmental advocates and their supporters held a rally to protest what they see as increasing threats to science and research in the U.S. The scientists, some dressed in white lab coats, called on Mr. Trump’s administration to recognize evidence of climate change and take action on various environmental issues.

The “Rally to Stand Up for Science” in Boston’s Copley Square was held outside of the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, one of the first major gatherings of scientists since Mr. Trump was elected in November. 

Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies renewable energy solutions to climate change, said scientists were responding to the Trump administration’s “anti-science rhetoric.”

“We’re really trying to send a message today to Mr. Trump that America runs on science, science is the backbone of our prosperity and progress,” Supran said.

Some of those who turned out criticized Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency over the objections of environmental groups.

In Chicago, about 1,000 protesters gathered at Trump Tower around noon on Sunday. The rally ended with a march to the Federal Plaza two hours later, CBS Chicago reported.

“We’re out here to show that we’re just as strong, just as united, just as much solidarity on behalf of immigrants,” said Roger Fraser, a resident of Rolling Meadows.

Fraser and his wife came from the Northwest suburbs to participate, and said he was not expecting the turnout.

“It’s a testimony to a fact that what’s best in this country is out here today, and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” said Fraser.

In Salem, Oregon, hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday in front of the Oregon State Capitol to support immigration rights, The Statesman Journal reported. 

Yesica Navarro braved the cold weather and spoke in the Capitol Mall about growing up as an immigrant. She said she came to the U.S. as a child with her family, and they managed to succeed despite the odds.

“We love this country, and we want to be accepted. This is our home,” Navarro said.

The crowd, which organizers said approached 1,000, cheered and clapped as cars driving along State Street honked, the newspaper reported. The rally was part of a national effort called Immigrants’ March Presidents Day 2017. The people drawn to the event were a mix of immigrants and non-immigrants, the Statesman Journal reported.

In Los Angeles on Saturday, about 2,500 demonstrators gathered across the park from City Hall Saturday to protest Mr. Trump’s immigration policies, CBS Los Angeles reported. About 25 Trump supporters were nearby to voice their concerns as well.

Organizers of the rally included several labor and immigrant rights groups.