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Fairfield Native Join Airport Crowds In Protesting Muslim Ban

Ann Hughes, who was raised in Fairfield and now lives in Easton, calls for an open 'Overground Railroad' to offer sanctuary for refugees as she joins the protest at Bradley Airport. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Suzy Stark of Monroe keeps her message simple as she joins the protest at Bradley International Airport on Sunday. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Gina Musumeci of Newtown is joined by her husband and two young daughters at the protest at Bradley International Airport on Sunday. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
The protest at Bradley International Airport greets arriving passengers — along with a pole emblazoned with the state's tourism motto: Connecticut Still Revolutionary. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
A protester who identified herself only as Shirley joins the crowd at Bradley Airport with her sign propped on her walker. She is 93 and from West Hartford. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
A group of protesters wear yellow stars as they join the crowd at Bradley Airport on Sunday. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Some of the signs in the crowd at Bradley Airport. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
A young protester from Northampton, Mass., with his mom. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman winds through the crowd at Bradley International Airport on Sunday after speaking in support of the protest. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Protesters from Fairfield County joined others across the nation in descending on airports on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order banning Muslims from seven countries entry to the United States.  

In Connecticut, a large crowd filled much of the baggage claim area at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks for the entire afternoon, with Connecticut State Police, airport security and airline personnel standing by at the peaceful but loud protest. 

"We need to create a bold trend to resist — not in secret — and provide sanctuary for resisters and refugees," said Ann Hughes, an Easton resident who was raised in Fairfield. Hughes carried a sign that said, "Overground Railroad is Open," paying homage to the Underground Railroad that guided slaves to freedom. 

"The refugee ban and Muslim ban are acts of cowardice and are morally corrupt," Hughes said of Trump's executive order. "We need to be openly resistant and boldly defiant. ... This is what democracy looks like."

The hundreds of people in the crowd ranged in age from infants in strollers to Shirley, a 93-year-old from West Hartford who carried a huge sign while sitting on her walker. Hometowns stretched from Fairfield County, into the hills of Litchfield County and western Massachusetts and around suburban Hartford and New Haven. 

Suzy Stark of Monroe was part of the crowd, holding up a sign emblazoned with, "We're all immigrants!!!" and wearing a pink hat. 

"I came because the ban is not right, it is immoral," Stark said. "We need refugees be safe. That is what makes America great." 

Gina Musumeci of Newtown was joined by her husband and two young daughters, ages 1 and 5.

"These are not America's values. It is not American to reject people who come here as refugees or people who worked for our Army or who are residents," said Musumeci.

'"One day, our children will ask us what we did when Trump was elected," she said. "And I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them about these protests."   

The crowd was contained within simple belt barriers to keep open a walkway for arriving travelers. The members frequently broke into loud chants of "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all" and "Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here." Another chant was, "Build a wall, we'll tear it down." At one point, protesters sang, "This Land Is Your Land."

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman addressed the crowd. And Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Sunday he supported the protests of the order, entitled "Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

"I applaud those taking action today for seeking to give voice to fairness and compassion. I also applaud the swift legal action taken yesterday by the American Civil Liberty Union and other advocates on behalf of not just those directly impacted by this order, but on behalf of all Americans," Malloy said in a statement. 

"This executive order conflicts with rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and it must be contested in our courts. As a nation of immigrants, inclusivity and compassion are the hallmarks of who we are. We will not abandon our values. In the face of grave injustice, we will be neither silent nor idle, but stand ready to protect our neighbors and communities."

The rally was organized on a day's notice by CAIR-CT, which gives a voice to the state’s more than 150,000 Muslims. Formed in 2004, CAIR-Connecticut is based in Hartford. It is a chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Islamic civil liberties group. 

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