On short notice, hundreds of Alamedans show support for their Muslim neighbors

A rally at the Islamic Center of Alameda Sunday afternoon in opposition to President Trump’s immigration ban attracted hundreds on short notice. PHOTO/Steven Tavares

ALAMEDA
A quickly organized rally Sunday afternoon in support of Muslims in Alameda grew to more than 300 people. The rally in front of the Islamic Center of Alameda was organized online over the weekend to express solidarity with Muslims. It gained energy following protests on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport and others airports across the country opposing President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries.

Supporters on the corners of 9th Street and Santa
Clara Avenue in Alameda.

Passing cars honked their horns to validate the sentiments of those holding signs in support of Muslim Americans. Many chanted support for Muslims, while others voiced opposition to Trump’s controversial executive order signed on Friday.

As people filled the front of the Islamic Center’s property, three other corners of the intersection on 9th Street and Santa Clara Avenue began to swell with additional supporters.

“Hundreds of people showing up with 24-hours notice is a big deal anywhere,” said Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella. “In the city of Alameda, I think it shows we really are in changing times and we’re an inclusive community.”

Three days prior to Trump’s swearing-in this month, the Alameda City Council unanimously declared itself a sanctuary city. Part of the impetus was to protect the city before Trump possibly made good on some of his most vitriolic campaign rhetoric, including hostility toward immigrants and Muslims.

“Unfortunately, I was anticipating this and that’s why Councilmember [Jim] Oddie and I felt very strongly that it needed to go through as quickly as possible,” said Vella. “Coming from a family that has been interned, I don’t want that on my hands.” Oddie authored the legislation and was also in attendance Sunday, as was Mayor Trish Spencer and Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.

Member of the Islamic Center were overjoyed by the outpouring of support, a few attempting to personally thank each attendee. “This is such a warming feeling,” said Araff Shaik, one of the imams at the Islamic Center of Alameda. “We are so happy to have the support. We feel the love and we give it back equal to them.”

As the number of supporters grew, an impromptu march ensued that circled one square city block, jamming Mozart Street, a normally quiet neighborhood side street with people from Lincoln to Santa Clara Avenues.

“Maybe this will really ‘Make American Great Again’ after all,” Alameda resident Charlie Sarno, said in a twist to tweak the president’s famous campaign slogan. Activism against Trump is growing quickly growing across the country, he added. “The inspiring part is this is only the beginning.”

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