So it turns out that the people of Oxford don’t really like Donald Trump. Who would have guessed? Last night, two thousand five hundred people crammed into Cornmarket Street to protest against Donald Trump’s executive order banning all immigration from several Muslim-majority countries and Theresa May’s apparent acceptance of it. The march had been organised at short notice by Oxford Stand Up to Racism, Oxford Momentum and Oxford University Islamic Society to coincide with demonstrations across the country and the world. The crowd was incredibly diverse; first time protesters and uni students mixed with hard-core trade unionists and members of the local Muslim community to voice their opposition to the ban. Even OULC and OUCA were united, with prominent members of both attending to shout “Theresa May, you’re a sham! Muslims in, racists out!”.
Protesters on Cornmarket Street
The protest began with a rally by Carfax Tower, and the Labour candidate for Iffley Fields and St Mary’s Helen Evans and Ian McKendrick from Oxford Stand Up To Racism addressed the crowd. Other local campaigners spoke to the crowd as well, which blocked the entirety of Cornmarket Street. A local Muslim Imam sang the shahada prayer, which drew a loud round of applause and cheers. Speeches were made haranguing Trump, calling him a racist and sexist, interspersed with chants of “Refugees are welcome here!” and “Stop deportations!”. At least one of the speakers also pledged to try and stop Trump’s upcoming state visit, while several in the crowd shouted “Block the runway!”. The rally appeared to draw a large amount of support from passers-by, with many walking through the channels down the street kept open by the police joining in the chanting and expressing support. A few did appear agitated or angry at the extra minute it took them to walk home, however. Lots of protesters were holding home-made signs and banners; highlights of these included ‘Feed Him To The Corgis’, ‘Tiny Handed Hitler’ and ‘Build a Wall Around Trump’. Shockingly at least one fresher studying politics was in attendance, as shown by the sign saying “Stop Competitive Authoritarianism (Levitsky and Way 2010)”. If only all protesters had the rigour to properly reference their rage with footnotes.
The protesters then proceeded down the High Street, chanting as they went, and the police were forced to stop the traffic due to the numbers who had attended. The march went all the way over Magdalen Bridge and back up the high street before it then dispersed.