6 arrested in protest at Charlotte Douglas airport

Protesters gather near airport

Protesters gather on Wilkinson Blvd. Sunday against President Trump's recent refugee policy
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Protesters gather on Wilkinson Blvd. Sunday against President Trump's recent refugee policy

Six people were arrested Saturday night during protests at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, as protests flared at airports around the country over President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim nations from entering the United States.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said officers and airport officials “encountered a small group of peaceful protesters” around 9 p.m. in the baggage claim area.

Among the chants from the protesters: “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “No justice for the black, no justice for the brown, so what we gonna do? Shut it down. Shut it down.”

“Approximately 50 protestors formed in two distinct groups. A small group was protesting immigration and presidential executive orders. An additional group arrived and were protesting community related issues,” police said in a statement. WFAE reported that the protesters included members of Charlotte Uprising, a group organized in the aftermath of September’s fatal police shooting of Keith Scott.

“Officers, along with airport staff worked with organizers to facilitate lawful demonstrations. Subsequently, demonstrators transitioned to a more aggressive group, causing a disturbance in the airport terminal,” the police statement said.

“Because of public safety concerns, City Code has different requirements for demonstrating at the airport,” police said. “The group was asked to leave the airport and some of the demonstrators refused. Six individuals were arrested for Resist, Obstruct and Delay and Trespass.”

Police identified the six arrested and their charges: Dhruv Pathak, 23, second degree trespass; Samantha Valdez, 24,second degree trespass; Eleanor Everette, 16, second degree trespass; Michael Johnson, 24, resist, obstruct and delay, second degree trespass; Gloria Merriweather, 24, second degree trespass; and James Marsicano, 23resist, obstruct and delay, second degree trespass.

On its website, Charlotte Uprising identified those arrested as “six of our own” who were protesting “in response the UNCONSTITUTIONAL Muslim ban!!!” The group also asked for a lawyer who could go to the jail and providepro bono legal assistance.

Late Saturday, two federal courts ruled against part of Trump’s executive order. A federal court in Brooklyn granted a nationwide stay preventing the government from deporting people who arrived with valid U.S. visas. “Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” said Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York.

A second judge in Virginia issued a temporary restraining order preventing the deportation of permanent U.S. residents who arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia also ruled that the detained passengers must be given access to an attorney.

The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that between 100 and 200 people are being held in U.S. airports because of Trump’s executive order, which upended thousands of lives overnight, including permanent U.S. residents who were denied entry or stranded abroad over the weekend.

Outraged families and advocacy groups publicized cases of visa holders and permanent residents, including some who’ve held so-called green cards for decades, being detained at airports or barred from entering the United States.

Karen Garloch: 704-358-5078, @kgarloch

McClatchy Washington bureau contributed.