Last week after the presidential election, María (not her real name) called her father on his cell phone asking if she could have permission to walk out of New Vista High School in Boulder to protest Trump’s election. With his blessing, she joined hundreds of students in a march to the Boulder courthouse carrying signs touting diversity, tolerance, and hope.
New Vista High School students joined others from Boulder and Fairview High Schools in Boulder and Centaurus High School in Lafayette to stage protests in the largely Democratic, Boulder County. Boulder County, reelected their liberal Congressman Jared Polis, and along with Denver County, who reelected their Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette, overwhelmingly voted for Secretary Hillary Clinton for President.
For María, growing up in an African American, American Indian and Mexican household, celebration of diversity is second nature. That’s why when she heard some of Donald Trump’s comments, she felt moved to become involved, “The way he ran his campaign and how much hate and racism he brought into it has made it apparent that no matter how many steps forward, racism and hate is a cycle in this country.” Best case scenario as a result of protests? María would like to see Trump get impeached for some of his policies. She has vowed to stay involved in politics and in four years will be able to vote for the first time in a presidential election.
“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (The people united will never be defeated) was one of the chants during a student-led protest on Friday in Denver. High schoolers from the Denver School of Science and Technology, Strive Prep and Lincoln High School marched north on Federal Boulevard to send a message that diversity and immigration is important to the United States. “No KKK”, “No racist USA”, “No Trump” and “We are Not Thugs” signs along with flags from several Latin American nations including Mexico, Venezuela and El Salvador were seen in the crowd. With a population overwhelmingly of Latino students, Trump’s divisive proposals on immigration were the center of attention.
Not all protests like the student-led efforts in Boulder and Denver have been so organized and so peaceful. In Oakland, California, dozens were arrested with reports of extensive anti-Trump graffiti, fires set in streets and objects being thrown at police. In Portland over successive nights, local media reported at least one shooting between protesters and Trump supporters, attack on business and police property, traffic disruption and numerous arrests. Dozens have been arrested in New York City, mostly protesting in front of Trump buildings.
On Thursday Trump took to his Twitter account and in one of his first Tweets as President-Elect, condemned the protesters, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” The sentiment was a far cry from his campaign assertion that he might deny the result of the outcome, “I will accept the outcome of the election… If I win.” By Friday morning, Trump seemed to moderate his tone on Twitter, “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
The crowds have been underestimated by Trump. In addition to student-led protests across the country, demonstrations have continued in places like California where marchers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego took to the streets. Other spots in the Pacific Northwest like Portland, Seattle and Olympia, Washingon and East Coast cities like Boston, Baltimore and New York all staged protests with thousands in attendance. Even Midwestern cities held protests – Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit might have been predicted but high turnout in Louisville, Des Moines, and Iowa City demonstrates the breadth that the anti-Trump rallies have achieved. Demonstrations in at least 27 cities have been documented to date.
In our nation’s capital, a vigil was held outside the White House during and after the Trump visit with President Obama. In a city where 96 percent of the quarter of a million votes cast for President were for Secretary Clinton, Washington DC is not acquiescing quietly. Numerous protests have been staged at Trump properties and a ‘hug-in’ in DuPont Circle was organized. New York City also picked up on the love vibe. A ‘Love Rally’ was held in Washington Square Park to demonstrate that love is stronger than hate.
A crowd of more than one thousand assembled in Denver’s Civic Center Park for a unity rally on Sunday. Organized by launching a Facebook page, Denver Unites to Defeat Hate has over 4,200 ‘interested’ and 1,700 reported as attending. On the page organizers invited Denverites to the park, “It is time that we come together and listen to one another on the future that we all need, consciously focusing our intent in equality and peace. Let’s build relationships and make each other feel safe again. People of all disabilities are welcome to this event. We heard your voices.”
State Representative Joe Salazar spoke at the rally and wants people to move to action after the election results, “As I told the crowd, it’s one thing for Democrats to say they stand with the people, and another to take action. I’ve been working on legislation to counter any policy ideas like Stop and Frisk. My legislation would prohibit a national policy.” Salazar filed that bill more than two months ago in anticipation of the election outcome. Salazar is also looking at long-term solutions, “I will propose K-12 multi-cultural education curriculum to teach history about communities of color. By breaking down barriers we can start to appreciate each other even more.” Finally, Salazar will respond to an increase in violence against certain populations since the election, “I want to strengthen hate crime legislation in Colorado. Our state doesn’t even keep track of hate crimes. We already know there has been an increase. This State Rep is going to be taking action.”