Thousands protest Trump immigration order outside Atlanta airport

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Thousands protest Trump immigration order outside Atlanta airport

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Branden Camp/AP / Brandon Camp
Demonstrators hold signs at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport during a demonstration to denounce President Donald Trump's executive order that bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

7:40 P.M.

About a dozen police officers lined up between the remaining protesters and the street.

Jan. 29, 2017 - About a dozen police officers lined up outside Hartsfiled-Jackson Atlanta International Airport between the remaining protesters and the street on Sunday night. RHONDA COOK / RCOOK@AJC.COM

7:00 p.m.

Some protesters entered baggage claim but were stopped by security before they could go any further.

6:45 p.m.

Three women paused during the protest to pray, putting down their cardboard to rest their heads and bowing to the east.

It was a peaceful image amid the chaos of honking horns, chants and some obscenities.

An airport official said Atlanta Police and other law enforcement personnel are on hand, as are medical teams if necessary. Authorities are watching crowds to make sure passengers and protesters remain safe. www.accessatlanta.com

6:12 p.m.

Some protesters have started to leave the airport but the crowd remains strong.

Georgia Representative John Lewis greets protesters at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Sunday, January 29, 2017. (Cory Hancock for The AJC)

5:40 P.M.

By 5:30 p.m., the crowd of protesters had grown into the thousands. U.S. Rep. John Lewis greeted members of the crowd.

5:25 P.M.

One of 12 protesters asked to move by police was Brian O'Byrne, a naturalized citizen who moved here from Ireland.

He asked officers what law he was breaking. They said he had to change the message on his sign which was a paper bag.

He tore off the part that said "I am an immigrant" and left the bottom that was a heart and "welcome."

"It's offensive to say I'm an immigrant? I'm here to welcome people."

5:05 P.M. 

About 12 people had gathered with signs to greet arriving passengers at the International terminal. 

Police told them to move up a level to an area designated for protests.

The sign holders did not initiate conversations with passengers though some stopped to speak or for hugs.

4:20 P.M. An airport official said Atlanta Police and other law enforcement personnel are on hand, as are medical teams if necessary.Authorities are watching crowds to make sure passengers and protesters remain safe.

The protest area is narrow on the island between the two main sets of lanes of the main terminal road.

4 P.M.

Hundreds of people are now gathered outside of the airport to protest President Trump’s immigration executive order.

3:50 p.m.

Gainesville resident Brianna Roberson said she came because she could not watch refugees be shut out of the nation at great peril to their lives.    

"The people (Trump) is banning are the people who need us the most," she said.

Outside protestors shouted: “Love trumps hate!"

3:30 p.m.

Dozens of protesters have gathered outside of the airport already with the official protest slated to begin at 4 p.m.

They chanted "No hate, no fear. Everyone is welcome here" as passengers entered.

Jan. 29., 2017 - Hundreds of people gathered outside of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's immigration executive order. J. SCOTT TRUBEY / STRUBEY@AJC.COM

Gerald Griggs, an Atlanta attorney who is also with the Atlanta NAACP, said demonstrators gathered to stand up for fundamental American rights and values.

"We want to make our voices heard so that we take not one step back," he said into a megaphone.

Inside the main domestic terminal, Skye Passmore held a sign reading: "Welcome home Muslim friends" as travelers made their way to the security checkpoints and Delta Air Lines baggage claim.  

"America was built on backs of immigrants," he said. "It was founded for religious freedom.” 

Jan. 29, 2017 Janice Wardlaw (left) and Mary Hoyt (right) arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Sunday to protest the Trump administration's executive order banning refugees from the country. RHONDA COOK / rcook@ajc.com

"Our symbol, the Statue of Liberty, is a welcoming symbol to immigrants. [Trump] has gone against every value we have as Americans. We won't stop fighting," he said.

2:50 p.m.

Mary Hoyt from Clarkston showed up to the airport early in advance of today’s protest so she won't miss dinner with several Republican friends. 

Hoyt said she hopes "bridge building will occur over that table.

She stood next to Janice Wardlaw, also of Clarkston.

"I have never protested in my life. It's unfair. At done point all of our ancestors were refugees. It's just important to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves."

Several people walked up to Hoyt to compliment her sign. 

Being here feels "very spiritually productive ... true to what God's telling me. I believe in the power of prayer,” she said.

JANUARY 28, 2017 ATLANTA Mansour Kenereh (center in purple sweater) reunites with family members in the International arrivals lobby at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport Saturday January 25, 2017.The family of 3 were among several people detained at the Customs and Border Protection office following an executive order from President Trump limiting immigration. Kent D. Johnson/AJC *** FAMILY MEMBERS DECLINED TO BE IDENTIFIED*** The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

1 p.m.

It’s not yet clear how large the demonstrations will be, but similar protests at airports around the country Saturday drew thousands, and Hartsfield-Jackson officials are preparing for large crowds.

The Atlanta protest is now expected to take place at two locations at the airport, the South Domestic Terminal where Delta Air Lines is located and the airport is also preparing to accommodate protesters at the International Terminal.

Expected to speak at the gathering include the following:

  • Asma Elhuni, local organizer 
  • Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal and Advocacy Director of Project South 
  • Sarah Owings, Chair of the local American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) 
  • Monica Modi Khant, Executive Director of Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN) 
  • Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia

The gathering at the Domestic terminal will be across the road from the Delta Air Lines baggage claim area. The gathering at the International Terminal will be at the upper level near what is referred to as a media staging area.

“Our primary objective is to ensure the safety and security of everyone at the airport, including demonstrators and our passengers,” said airport spokesman Reese McCranie. “We are working diligently to make sure operations continue seamlessly and efficiently and we do not expect any significant impacts to travelers today.”

The airport does encourage passengers to arrive early because the protest may slow traffic on the terminal roads.

10:24 a.m.

A Delta representative described operations so far Sunday as routine.

10 a.m.

An airport spokesman said Sunday morning Hartsfield-Jackson has a plan in place to accommodate demonstrators. The airport will brief media after staff meet this morning. 

The flow of travelers at the airport was light at 9:30 with wait times still less than 15 minutes at airport security lines.

8:19 a.m.

Operations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport appeared normal Sunday morning, a day after federal judges enacted orders putting partial blocks on parts of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive action on immigration and refugees.

And late Saturday, Mayor Kasim Reed said on his Twitter feed that the 11 people detained at the airport that day had been released.

“At @ATLairport right now. All eleven individuals who were detained at Hartsfield-Jackson airport have been cleared & released,” Reed posted about 11:30 p.m.

The flow of passengers in the main domestic terminals was light and there were no reports of significant flight delays. A protest of Trump’s order is planned today at 4 p.m. outside the South Domestic Terminal at the world’s busiest airport.

The actions by Trump’s administration triggered protests at airports across the country.

At first, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official would not say how many people were being detained at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Saturday following President Donald Trump’s executive order, U.S. Rep. John Lewis said. So Lewis turned to a gathering crowd of activists and attorneys at the airport and declared: “Why don’t we just sit down and stay a while.” JEREMY REDMON/jredmon@ajc.com

A federal judge temporarily blocked part of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration late Saturday night following a chaotic day in which foreign travelers from predominantly Muslim countries were detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and the nation’s other ports of entry.

On early Sunday, the Trump Administration that it is not backing down on an executive order that is sowing confusion in the nation’s airports, striking a bold tone just hours after a federal judge in New York blocked parts of the decree.

At 1:26 a.m., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a news release, saying it would comply with judicial orders but that President Donald Trump’s actions on immigration “remain in place — prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”

Wait times at security checkpoints were listed as being under 15 minutes at 8 a.m.

Staff writers Jeremy Redmon and Willoughby Mariano contributed to this report. 

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