The Solidarity Vigil at Albany International Airport was a true grass-roots action, with word spread via social media that attracted up to 1,000 people during the protest (from 10 am to just after 2 pm on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017).
It was a peaceful protest, thanks in large part to the peaceful nature of the participants, raising voices in chants such as “No ban! No wall!” and “Love trumps hate!” and “No hate! No fear! Muslims are welcome here!”
There was an improvisational aspect of the event, in which different participants took the megaphone to address the crowd. Among the people who spoke were this mother with her daughter in her Brownie uniform. The mother said she had never spoken out in public like this before, but she wanted to set an example for her daughter and the other girl scouts in her troop.
Another person in the crowd who spoke up was Capital Region musician and activist Tania Asili.
You’ll notice that one of the Albany County Sheriff’s deputies gently encouraged Asili to move out of the way of passengers coming into the aiport for their flights. It was great to see the crowd, the Sheriffs deputies, the airport workers, and the airport passengers able to share the space peacefully and without incident.
The best part of the event was that it was an expression of values. That despite the US history of exclusion, violence, racism, and bigotry, the protesting crowd could exemplify what is best about America as a place that welcomes refugees and immigrants, as a place of tolerance of people from all religious backgrounds, which is enshrined in the Constitution, as well as the history of peaceful assembly (also in the Constitution) and, most importantly, in a time of division, a true sense of community, the notion that we are all in this together.