Thousands of protesters swarmed Los Angeles International Airport January 28 in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order that barred incoming refugees from Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely, any other refugees for 120 days and blocked people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, including legal residents with travel visas and green cards, from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
The order left refugees and visitors from the seven countries detained at the airport for hours. The Los Angeles Times reported that the exact number of detainees held at LAX on the first day was unclear since customs officials would not allow communication between detainees and family members or attorneys.
Protests began just before 2 pm, Sunday and lasted until 12 am, Monday. Marches remained relatively peaceful, but interfered with traffic at the airport.
Demonstrators managed to shut down the lower level roadways of Terminal 3, Terminal 4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal, according to the Los Angeles World Airports website.
Protesters and police eventually coordinated a plan that allowed traffic to flow on the upper and lower level terminal roads for 30 minutes at a time, allowing demonstrators to block one level for 15 minutes while the other level allowed a flow of traffic, airport officials said.
The Los Angeles Times reported two arrests had been made by LAX police when demonstrators blocked a roadway. The marchers were eventually cited and released.
Airport officials reported a total of 15 delayed flights by 12 am, Monday.
Some motorists caught in the midst of the protests were in support of the demonstrations. The protests were, however, a cause for concern in regards to their flight schedule.
Launita Walker, a driver who was caught in gridlock traffic said, “I’m on their side all the way around, but I need to get out of here.”
“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” read one sign held by protester Matthew Pagoaga, directly quoting the “Star Wars” character Yoda.
Pagoaga elaborated on the meaning of his sign, saying “There’s never been anything so atrocious in our political system, discriminating against whole groups of people based on religion. We can’t protect ourselves by hating other people.”
Four days after the dispersion of the massive protest, NBC Los Angeles reported that many volunteer lawyers are still working at LAX to help foreigners understand the executive order and it’s affect on them.