Local mayors tell Muslim center crowd: 'Standing with you right thing to do'
An estimated crowd of 1,500 people packed every inch of the Muslim Educational Trust center Wednesday evening for an emergency forum to discuss President Donald Trump's executive order on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Along with representatives from numerous Portland-area congregations were politicians, police chiefs, attorneys and other speakers from Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, Portland and Multnomah County — all in opposition of Trump's executive order that placed a temporary ban on new immigrants and visa-holding visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Many refugees who fled to Oregon in the past 10 years came from the Middle East.
The Feb. 1 MET forum, "Understanding Justice and Equality for All Through the Strength of Law and Compassion," drew a capacity crowd that included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who received a standing ovation for his spirited speech, which concluded with him saying, "I am standing with you today because it's the right thing to do."
Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman also received a standing ovation from the crowd after he spoke about the importance of community. "This uniform is a symbol of fear to a lot of people in the United States — the uniform, gun and badge. I want it to be a symbol of safety," Marshman said.
Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, who confirmed his commitment to making Beaverton a welcoming and inclusive community that nurtures all people, referred to Trump's oath of office as "the day the music died."
"This is a point in history for the best country in the world to say this is a new chapter," Doyle said. "It is our turn to make new music. We are on fire to correct the corrupt situations we have right now."
Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway mirrored Doyle's sentiments. "I have been worried about my country since Nov. 8," he said. Callaway quoted former President Bill Clinton: "There's nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."
Callaway said he walked in the Jan. 21 Portland Women's March with his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law to take a stand for what is right with America. "My 90-year-old mom called me and said 'Steven, I am proud of you.'"
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici sent a representative from her office, as she was in Washington, D.C. "We will not let fear dictate public policy."
The event began at 6:30 p.m. and concluded at about 10 p.m. More forums are being planned and scheduled in the Portland area.
Trump's executive order was signed on Friday. Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates announced that her office would not defend the executive order and, on Tuesday, Trump fired her. On Monday, nearly 1,000 U.S. diplomats signed onto a dissent memo that opposed the executive order.
On Wednesday, 50 American Civil Liberties Union affiliates filed 18 coordinated Freedom of Information Act requests with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices to begin the process of fighting the executive order.