St. Louis marches for Muslims, immigrants and refugees
Al Neal | PW

St. LOUIS—Over 1,000 people gathered outside of Thomas F. Eagleton federal courthouse last Saturday afternoon for a rally in support of Muslims, refugees and immigrants hosted by the local chapter of the national advocacy group Conference on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The Feb. 4 rally marked the fourth local protest action since President Trump signed a controversial Jan. 27 order barring travelers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

A temporary halt to the ban

On Feb. 3, James Robart, federal judge for the District of Seattle, Washington, issued a temporary injunction to halt federal authorities from enforcing the executive order.

“The executive order adversely affects the state’s residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,” Robart wrote, adding that the order also harmed the state of Washington’s public universities and tax base. “These harms are significant and ongoing.”

Although this isn’t the first judicial ruling against the travel ban, it is the most in-depth as it vacates the key parts of the President’s order, according to attorneys.

The White House responded early the next morning by asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency administrative stay of Robart’s ruling without hearing from the plaintiffs, the states of Washington and Minnesota. The court declined, asking for more briefs to be submitted.

A city rallies

Back in St. Louis, at 1:30pm the activists marched from the federal courthouse to the Gateway Arch, receiving much support from motorists and weekenders.

Flooding the park adjacent to the arch, activists huddled together as speakers began to address the crowd.

“Make some noise if Black lives matter: make some noise if LGBTQ lives matter; I need you to make some noise if Muslim lives, refugee lives, and immigrant lives matter!” said Bruce Franks Jr., a Missouri state representative who hails from St. Louis. “It’s beautiful that we all came together in the cold to march and be mad, but we need to stay mad because we can meet and march all day but that won’t change anything unless we take action!”

Tony Pecinovsky, President of the St. Louis Workers Education Society, also brought a call to action:

“Because of you – in all of your diversity – we have put Bannon and Trump back on their heels! We should rejoice in our victory! And continue to build bridges!”

The rally came to a close at 4pm as Muslim-Americans, present at the rally, began their afternoon prayer under the arch, protected by a circle of inter-faith allies and activists.

The court battle continues

Early Monday morning, the states of Washington and Minnesota filed their 9th circuit brief saying that, “President Trump unleashed chaos by signing the executive order.”

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have also filed a supporting brief arguing that allowing the ban to stand would: “cause harm to the states, including to state institutions such as public universities, to the businesses that sustain our economies, and to our residents.”

While the Trump Administration maintains that Judge Robart’s ruling would cause irreparable harm to the nation, and that courts are not meant to second-guess the executive’s conduct of foreign affairs, or intrude on its plenary power in this area. To support its position, it cites the 1950’s Knauf v Shaughnessy Supreme Court ruling.
On Tuesday, oral arguments were heard by the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with a decision promised within days.



Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.