Young Hoosiers Stand Up and Speak Out

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Families filled the Indianapolis International Airport to protest President Trump’s immigration ban.

By Breanna Cooper

Since his inauguration just over a week ago, citizens opposing the policies and executive orders imposed by President Trump have been taking to the streets to protest what they believe to be unjust.

In recent days, concerned citizens have been filling up airports across the nation to protest President Trump’s executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which was signed on Friday, Jan. 27.

This executive order bars citizens from seven nations:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, entry into the United States for 90 days. Citizens of these countries who are students, refugees, and visitors were detained at airports around the country and international airports, including a 5-year-old Iranian boy who was detained apart from his mother for several hours.

President Trump argues that the purpose of this order is to protect Americans from terrorist attacks, citing the Sept. 11 attacks. It should be noted that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. This order does not include Saudi Arabia, where President Trump has strong business ties.

On Saturday, Jan. 29, an estimated 1,000 Hoosiers rallied in the Indianapolis International Airport, filling the building to capacity.  Among the diverse crowd stood many families, mothers holding infants as speakers such as Sen. Joe Donnelly addressed the crowd. Toddlers sat upon their fathers’ shoulders, carrying handmade signs saying things like “The children are watching.”

Not only are they watching, they have questions.

Stacey S., a mother of two 5-year-old boys, brought her sons to the rally in an attempt to give them answers.

Stacey S. with sons Adrian (right) and Alex (left) pose with their homemade signs.

“They’ve been asking me questions for weeks, through the election and through the things that followed,” Stacey said. “They’re scared and confused, and they don’t know what they can do. They had seen Facebook posts of other people protesting in the airports, and they were like ‘Can we do that, too, in our airport?’ and I said ‘Sure!’”

“Adrian’s been asking me ‘What about all the good people? Can they come?’ and Alex has been asking me ‘Why does Donald Trump want to scare people and trick them into not liking other people?’ Those are questions straight from 5-year-olds, and I don’t have answers, but at least I can give them something to do about it.”

Parents also see rallies such as the Resist the List Rally, as it was dubbed, as a chance to teach their children what they believe to be core values.

“I think it’s necessary for parents to involve their children in resistance,” Ata A. said. “Especially resistance against a regime of intolerance, of hate, corruption, and absolute disdain for the Constitution.”

For others, it’s personal.


Brian Ruckle and his daughter Elena, 9, protest together at the Resist the List rally.

“We just wanted her to experience it, [the rally] for one thing,” Brian Ruckle said of his 9-year-old daughter Elena.

“She’s biracial, her mother is Chinese and has a green card. I’m not very comfortable with some of the actions and attitudes the administration has been making towards China, and we may need these people to come out here and defend us someday. It’s personal for us. I want her to learn from it and take her freedoms seriously.”

Amid chants of “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” a young boy stood holding a sign with a simple message: “My best friend is Muslim.”

Zion, a young boy with a sense of empathy many adults seemingly lack, explains his personal reason for attending the rally.

“One of my best friends in Muslim, and for summer break, he’s going to be back in his home in Jordan,” Zion explained. “I’m just afraid…I don’t want them to not allow him back. This is so stupid.”

Zion also had another reason for protesting.

“I want to stop Trump, period,” he said.

"You can take my picture, but I don't feel like smiling tonight," Zion said.

Kim Saylor, a co-organizer of the Indianapolis rally, is proud of the fact that parents are using rallies as a learning experience for their children.

“It feels great to see the next generation being taught what to me is one of the main things that makes this country great: freedom of speech and the ability to protest when we find things we don’t agree with happening in our country,” Saylor said.

As the rally came to a peaceful end Saturday night, one thing was clear: Hoosiers are more than willing to stand up for what they believe in, and bring along their families to join in. As Christiane Hadi, a native of East Germany explained: “I saw people take to the streets for what they believed in, and I saw how many little people can change the world.”

It seems as though the littlest Hoosiers are doing their part to be the change they want to see.

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