200 gather in Roanoke for refugee rally

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Two-hundred people gathered at the Martin Luther King Memorial Bridge in Roanoke Saturday afternoon to make a stand that Roanoke is a welcoming city open to the refugee community.

Bianca Holman/WDBJ7

All ages and all ethnic groups sang together.

"All race, all religions should be welcomed here and I want everyone to speak up and not to be scared," refugee rally organizer Sana Hasan said.

Hasan, now a citizen, is a refugee from Kurdistan. After hearing about the travel ban, she felt compelled to speak out.

"With refugees and immigrants going home at the airport that was upsetting me and I thought that was wrong when some of them already had approved Visas to come to the U.S.," Hasan said.

Hasan was able to reach out to various community leaders who showed their support such as Sen. John Edwards, Del. Sam Rasoul and Roanoke NAACP President Brenda Hale.

"We are about fighting discrimination so it was easy for me to be here today. I have a message that we support all of the immigrants that come into our city and across the state," Hale said.

"We need to help each other with our visions and empower each other that you can do something awesome like [Hasan] did today. Educate each other about what your rights actually are, that is so important the constitution is so important, justice matter, judges matter," Freeda Cathcard of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Virginia said.

Hasan says she was overjoyed to see the support, but realizes it is just the beginning.

"You know this isn't for me, I've been here since 1996. I'm doing this for those who can't speak," Hasan said.

Hasan says this is the first of many events she hopes to be involved in to help the refugee community here in Roanoke. One of those future events is a clothing and home goods drive for immigrant and refugees living here now. You can find information about the drive to the right of this story. If you're on a mobile device, scroll down.