Rallying around unity, hundreds gather for #nobanCorvallis protest

Protesters gather outside around the courthouse with signs as cars drive by and honk in support.

Late Monday afternoon, protesters gathered outside of the Benton County Courthouse on Monday night to protest the recent executive order signed by President Trump. Supporters of all ages ranging from infants to elderly couples jam-packed the grassy area in front of the courthouse.

The President’s executive order bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for a 90-day period and suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

Despite the cold night, the crowd’s impact and volume increased as the afternoon turned into evening. Many supports came right from work, or cancelled their evening plans so they could rally behind their community and support other protestors with similar thinking.

George Hader, a Corvallis resident wasn’t shocked at the turnout of the crowd, and was proud to have such an inclusive community that cares about one another.

“I grew up in Corvallis so something like this is not surprising to me, but I’m really glad to be reminded that we leave in a community that feels so strongly about these issues and celebrates and appreciates diversity,” Hader said.

With Oregon State University being just blocks away from the courthouse, many OSU students and professors came to support the protest peacefully. Sarah McGreevy, a writing instructor at OSU who works directly with international students and lives near neighbors of Muslim faith feels that this ban only causes pain.

“I have a lot of friends and students from Iran and they are wonderful people, and I see how the ban is tearing their families apart,” McGreevy said. “I teach international students and they are worried about going home for break, and whether or not they can come back, so I think (the ban) has negative impacts on everyone and this isn’t who we are as Oregon or as a United States.

Various speakers and organizers of the event took turns speaking to the crowd of over 450 people that gathered at City Hall to peacefully voice their opinions regarding the executive order that President Donald Trump signed last week.

Speakers at the event included Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, Brandy Barrett, and state senator Sara Gelser.

Corvallis residents such as Wendy Herbert chose to participate in the protest because of her personal beliefs as well the sense of community that comes with participation.

“I came out tonight to protest the ban on immigration, and bask in the feeling of togetherness that an event like this can bring and give you a feeling of being around like minded people,” Herbert said.

Protesters also included mothers such as Corvallis resident Lauren Mendoza who felt it was important to stand in solidarity with others who like her are a parent of a minority.

“All people deserve basic rights, and rights safety,” Mendoza said. “I’m a mother to minority children, and that is the big reason I am out here. I think this is extremely peaceful, and hate doesn’t do any good, nor fixes anything.”

Despite Trump’s executive order, people in the Corvallis community including McGreevy know that peaceful protests like this one demonstrate that cities like Corvallis, and the state of Oregon are accepting to people of all races, and religions despite what the new presidential administration has stated.

“I’m really happy for the immigrants and refugees that we have in town and people from other countries that they can feel safe here,” McGreevy said. “What is really important to me is to show solidarity with my neighbors who are Muslim that we are accepting as a town and that this doesn’t define us.”