At least 1,000 Google employees rallied at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters today to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, filling and spilling out of a courtyard.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin addressed employees and described immigrating to the U.S. as a refugee from Russia at the age of 6. Brin said despite political turmoil at that time, even then “the U.S. had the courage to take me and my family in as refugees.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the employees they needed to reach out and have a dialogue with people across the country. “I think it's important to stay the course,” he said.
Employees affected by the order also spoke.
Google estimates more than 2,000 employees gathered at eight of the company’s campuses, including Mountain View, San Francisco, Boulder, Seattle and New York. The events were organized by employees and supported by Google, the company confirmed.
Participants were using the hashtag #GooglersUnite to share their photos and thoughts about the rallies.
Sergey Brin tells a rally of more than 1000 Googlers his story of Cing to the U.S. as a refugee at age 6. pic.twitter.com/pSeqKf5lEA— Tess Townsend (@Tess_Townsend) January 31, 2017
In Mountain View, employees began streaming from various directions into the courtyard located near campus eatery Charlie’s Cafe at 2:30 pm PT, holding signs with slogans such as “No Ban, No Wall, Resist,” “Proud Queer Immigrant” and “Make America Welcoming Again.”
A chant of “no ban, no wall” moved like a wave across the crowd as the cluster of employees grew denser in the sunshine. Employees could also be seen watching from the windows of buildings around the courtyard.
Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a product manager on Google Assistant, spoke about her experience learning of Trump’s executive order on immigration — while traveling abroad.
Esmaeilzadeh, a Canadian citizen born in Iran, said she had been on a business trip to Switzerland when she learned of the travel ban that affects seven countries including Iran. She said it was not immediately clear how the ban would affect her, a green card holder in the U.S.
She said she wondered if she should return from her trip early, and that Google first advised her to remain abroad. Once Google received word of a hold on the ban, the company told Esmaeilzadeh to fly back immediately.
“I am here today thanks to the efforts of a lot of Googlers,” she said, inspiring cheers from her colleagues. “But I don't feel free or at peace. This executive order is racist, unconstitutional and needs to be revoked.”
Employees cheered again, and some banged metal fences around the courtyard.
A Googler who said he immigrated from Mexico spoke next, telling the crowd he felt the election of Trump had sent a message of, “We don’t want you here.”
Members of the crowded shouted back to him, “We want you here!”
A third employee, who said he immigrated to the United States from Iran as a child, addressed the crowd to introduce a friend who is engaged to an Iranian. It was not clear if the friend was a Google employee.
The friend told the crowd, with emotion, about her new struggles to bring her fiancé to the United States when before their future together had seemed clear. “I was planning my wedding the week before this executive order,” she said.
The last speakers of the rally were Pichai and Brin. When Pichai mentioned Brin’s appearance at a weekend protest at San Francisco International Airport, the employees began to chant: “Sergey, Sergey, Sergey.”
Brin described moving to the United States as a refugee from Russia at the age of 6. He described joining the airport protest Saturday as “a really warm, wonderful experience.”
During Brin’s comments, at about 3:30 pm, helicopters could be heard overhead. As the aircraft came into view, Googlers turned in their direction, cheered and waved their signs.
Soon after the arrival of the choppers, the crowd dispersed. Many employees appeared to return to work, and a group split off together to head with their signs raised toward the street.
Google employees protesting Trump's immigration ban outside of the NYC headquarters.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.