The Resistance is alive in Central Pennsylvania. Over two thousand Lancaster residents attended a vigil supporting their immigrant and refugee community. The event was planned by Lancaster Stands Up in the wake of Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from Muslim countries, and it quickly became the largest demonstration in the city’s history.
The vigil began just before six o’clock, but protesters began filling Penn Square well before the start time. Two people waiting for the rally to begin were Iraqi refugees Shaymaa Ahmet and her mother. Shaymaa explained that she fled Baghdad in 2008 after terrorists murdered her brother and kidnapped her son. Shaymaa’s mother began the refugee process two years ago, and was allowed into the United States days before Donald Trump signed his Muslim ban.
Lancaster Stands Up organizer Rafael Diaz delivered a fiery speech to the crowd. Diaz began by asking the crowd how have they been doing over the past week, and that this hadn’t been a great week because “we’re realizing that we are living under a government that doesn’t have our backs” and “it’s been more extreme and visible and terrible than its ever been before.” He goes onto address the divisiveness being used to divide the refugee and immigrant communities from and the politicians who enable it like State Senators Ryan Aument and Scott Martin, both of whom signed onto a bill defunding sanctuary cities.
The resistance to Donald Trump is not just something that is bottled up in the country’s more liberal and densely populated urban areas. It is also happening in conservative Central Pennsylvania. Johnathan Smucker, a longtime Lancaster resident and organizer with Lancaster Stands Up, said that tonight’s rally was the largest he’s ever seen. Smucker explained that “Lancaster has long been a stop of Republican presidential candidates.” and “they think it is a conservative area.” But tonight’s rally and previous and upcoming demonstrations prove otherwise.