Local leaders opposing Trump’s policy declare ‘this land is our land’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A large crowd gathered on Youngstown’s Federal Plaza Friday afternoon for a rally opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan organized the rally for anyone against the seven-country travel ban and refugee policy.

“If we cannot convert this energy and this feeling that we have here today into voting, nothing will ever change,” she said.

Despite the chillier temperatures, they stood for an hour and listened to 16 speakers.

Easy Street Productions’ Maureen Collins started the event with the Woody Guthrie Classic, “This Land is Your Land.”

While the focus was on the stage, it was hard to miss the diversity in the crowd of 200 people.

“We would not be here today if the doors were closed in our faces. We would not have accomplished creating a great America without working together,” said Ashraf Salman, with the Arab American Community Center.

Alan Kretzer, president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said the group wants to welcome immigrants and treat refugees with compassion.

Reverend Lew Macklin, with Holy Trinity Baptist Church, said the people need to let the government know how they feel.

“We can no longer be silent and hope that our government will do what they think is in our best interest. It’s our responsibility to address the government and tell them what is in our best interest.”

Youngstown Mayor John McNally said Democrats have the odds against them right now.

“Remember, this is a four-year battle, perhaps longer.”

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras had some strong words.

“This is not Donald Trump territory.”

While Trump’s immigration policy was the primary focus of the rally, those in attendance also stressed unity.Reverend Ken Simon,

Reverend Ken Simon, pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown and the son of a man who marched with Martin Luther King, spoke on the idea.

“The people united will never be divided.”

Groups also rallied in Cleveland Friday, protesting the executive order on immigration and refugees. Several hundred people showed up and carried signs, starting at Market Square and marching several blocks into downtown. The crowd chanted “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”