After commuting by train to Birmingham from Stoke in order to attend university during the weekdays, Ruth Chapman-Hall is taking the usual journey to Birmingham, but instead of spending her Saturday afternoon relaxing at home, she has decided to attend her first protest.
Like many cities across the world, including one at the American Embassy in London, a protest against Donald Trump’s so called ‘Muslim ban’, as well as a protest against the current relationship between Britain and America, is held in Birmingham.
“I am protesting today as I believe it is important for teenagers and young people’s voices to be heard. We as a generation are important as we can change the world. Like over a million people, I signed the online petition to ban Donald Trump from visiting the UK, due to the extremely controversial and hateful things he has said.”
It is the third large protest in Birmingham since the American Presidential Inauguration, and with hundreds of Brummies showing their interest on social media prior to the event, protesters congregated outside Waterstones near the Bullring.
Many of the participants of the protest, like Ruth, are students who have created a variety of creative signs and placards, with the majority sharing their opposition to the new American President and chanting that he is not welcome in the UK.
“I wanted to put what I have said on social media in action, this is in fact the first protest I have ever been to. I can’t believe how many people, particularly students like myself are here to protest and how everyone is so positive for change to happen.”
The protest in High Street was organised by local charities such as Birmingham Stop the War Coalition, Birmingham Stand Up to Racism and was also supported nationally by the Muslim Association of Britain.
The main purpose of the march was to show opposition to the so called ‘Muslim ban’ in America, which prevented citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for a duration of ninety days, although there were also reports of American citizens turned away.
In addition to the protest march, representatives from a range of charities and community groups from across the city spoke at the event. Topics spoken about included the ‘Muslim Ban’, Donald Trump’s policies and Theresa May’s recent visit to America.
“It’s important that there is a protest against Donald Trump in Birmingham as it is such a large and diverse community of people. This protest today is all about showing solidarity with those who are or could be affected by Donald Trump’s policies.”
By 2:30pm protesters marched through Birmingham City Centre, passing Victoria Square and St. Philip’s Cathedral.Ruth along with some friends on the same university course as her marched near the front of the protest, and took in the large scale of the protest as they marched past some of Birmingham’s most famous landmarks.
Many of the protesters were involved in the even larger protest at the start of the week in Victoria Square, and it was clear to Ruth and the other protesters why they are protesting about events happening in America.
“People may ask why I am protesting about events happening in America or would say that this protest cannot change anything, but even though it is not to the same extent as in America, racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia still exists in the UK and we need to stand up to that.”
By the time protesters had returned to High Street, organisers said the protest had doubled in number, and after listening to a number of additional guest speakers, the protest concluded.
Ruth once again headed back toward Birmingham New Street, and reflecting on the afternoon commented that she enjoyed the experience of her first protest and was surprised at how large it was. She said:
“The poster that I have brought today was about spreading love, which is definitely needed right now in the world, and when Donald Trump seems to be spreading messages of fear and hate.”
WATCH: Protesters march through Birmingham