Protesters rally against Trump at U.S. consulate in Toronto
Speakers tell hundreds of people that Trump should immediately repeal travel ban
Hundreds of people protested against the Trump administration's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries outside the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto on Monday.
"Freedom for refugees, justice for immigrants," members of the crowd chanted during a march to city hall.
Speakers urged the crowd to write letters to U.S. President Donald Trump, demanding the repeal of Friday's executive order that bars citizens from Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Iran from entering the U.S.
They also said the U.S. should send its refugees to Canada and that protesters should consider privately sponsoring refugees.
'The time to act is now'
Organizer Dave Meslin said he was pleased with the turnout and the diversity represented at the protest.
"It's really great. That's what Canada is all about. Not just that we're diverse, but we come together. When one group is under attack, we all stand up to defend them," he told CBC Toronto.
Dave Meslin who organized today's protest is pleased with turnout & diversity here. Another planned for Sat, mosque vigil planned tonight <a href="https://t.co/AydEI8Z7vE">pic.twitter.com/AydEI8Z7vE</a>—@LindaWardCBC
In a Facebook post about the event, Meslin said the protest was an opportunity for people to express opposition to Trump's travel ban because it is discriminatory, causing chaos and confusion, and aimed at vulnerable people who need help, not closed doors.
"Refugees, many of them children, are trapped in airports and being turned back to a dangerous home ... because of their religion, their language, their skin colour," he wrote. "For all those who believe in a compassionate world, the time to act is now."
According to Meslin, the protest was intended to be peaceful and to show support for refugees and immigrants.
Protesters briefly blocked traffic in front of the consulate at 360 University Ave., then walked to Nathan Phillips Square to continue the rally. After that, protesters walked back to the consulate.
Nazerah Shaikh, a protester, said the travel ban has worried her family. She, along with her daughter and niece, are dual citizens of Canada and the U.S., and she has relatives in the U.S.
Shaikh said she knows Canadian dual citizens are not subjected to the travel ban, but it is still a concern because if family members go to the U.S., they want to make sure they can return to Canada.
"Our family travels a lot so we have to think twice now when we make our travel plans," she said.
On Sunday, in advance of the protest, the consulate announced it was suspending services on Monday due to the event.
"Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence," its announcement reads.
Const. Craig Brister, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said southbound University Avenue was closed at Dundas Street West during part of the protest. It reopened briefly while the protest moved to city hall, and closed again when the protest returned.
In the midst of protesting Trump's travel ban, the demonstrators also held a moment of silence for the six people killed in the Quebec City mosque shooting on Sunday night.
Moment of silence outside US consulate in Toronto for victims of QC mosque shooting <a href="https://t.co/NBb3tzhvHX">pic.twitter.com/NBb3tzhvHX</a>—@LindaWardCBC
And at 12 noon, about 50 people stopped for prayers on University Avenue. People surrounding them went silent.
The protest lasted about six hours.
Protest stopped for prayers on University avenue outside US consulate <a href="https://t.co/TxZBtU62Xv">pic.twitter.com/TxZBtU62Xv</a>—@LindaWardCBC
With files from Linda Ward