We reject the president-elect

November 14, 2016

People horrified by Trump's election found one another in the streets to raise their voices of resistance. Eric Ruder rounds up reports from around the country.

EACH DAY following the election last Tuesday, the streets of cities across the country have pulsed with anger, outrage, fear and solidarity in opposition to the election of Donald Trump. The response was immediate, with spontaneous mobilizations forming as the election results came in.

From Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, and from Los Angeles to Atlanta, the protests became places to process feelings of despair and isolation--and collectively transform them into the beginnings of a furious resistance to the racism, misogyny and xenophobia tapped into by Trump and emboldened by his "victory"--as this story was being written, Clinton's advantage in the popular vote had grown to more than 600,000.

In city after city, the sentiments expressed in chants and on signs decried Trump's racism and sexism and called for people to stand together--gay, straight, transgender, Muslim, Christian, disabled, undocumented, men, women, Arab, Black, Latino, Asian, white, and on and on.

The ugliness of the election result is being matched by the love and solidarity that poured into the streets. It will be up to activists, organizers and everyday people to make sure that this is only the beginning.

Protesters pour into the streets of Manhattan to fight racism and bigotry after Trump's election
Protesters pour into the streets of Manhattan to fight racism and bigotry after Trump's election

In New York City, between 10,000 and 30,000 marched on November 12, and another 15,000 the following day, according to organizers with Make the Road, an immigrant rights group that spearheaded the Sunday protest alongside many co-sponsoring groups.

Favorite chants included, "Not my president!" "Trump escucha, estámos en la lucha!" ("Trump, hear our cry, we are fighting back!"), "Your hands are too small, you can't build a wall!" Some of the many imaginative signs included: "Hey Trump, I'm a dishwasher, not a rapist," "This land was made for you and me," "Hands off my gay family," and "Electoral math: #NoMandate."

The weekend protests followed the multiple spontaneous outpourings the day after the election, which snaked through midtown and downtown Manhattan. As SocialistWorker.org reported on Thursday:

Every half hour or so, two marches would collide and erupt in joyous shouts of solidarity before continuing on together. While some marches began on the sidewalks, by the end of the night, they had taken over the streets.

When protesters waded into Broadway, they met support from car drivers honking their horns, bus drivers raising their fists and people shouting from upper floors of office buildings and apartments. Hundreds of vehicles were deserted in the streets as drivers joined the march.

In Chicago, a crowd of roughly 5,000, many of them high-school and college students as well as young workers and professionals, took to the streets against Trump, despite police efforts to thwart the mobilization by cordoning off an area around Trump Tower downtown.

As a result of the police cordon, the mobilization splintered into many different marches throughout downtown, but this did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, anger and energy of the crowd. The jubilant atmosphere--a sort of festival of the oppressed--was punctuated by scenes of raw emotion.

For example, when a Latina woman encountered a banner proclaiming, "No human being is illegal," she started sobbing on the shoulder of one of the people carrying it. "This is really weird, I know," she said. "I'm sorry. But I've been walking through crowds of people and then saw this." With tears streaming down her face, she paused and then melted back into the crowd.

In Los Angeles, thousands upon thousands marched on Saturday, November 12. On Wednesday and Thursday, there were consecutive days of protests numbering in the thousands.

On Thursday, for example, a crowd of about 2,000 to 3,000 rallied in front of City Hall, with groups of people marching up and down Broadway, the site of the 2006 mass immigrant rights marches. Others targeted the freeway, shutting it down in a time-honored Los Angeles tradition.

At one point, a piñata of the president-elect was burned. The protesters, mostly young and multicultural, not only chanted slogans against Donald Trump, but also for immigrant rights, women's rights, LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter. The protests materialized in an almost wholly spontaneous way, with almost no visible presence of organized forces.

In Atlanta, the call to protest was circulating via Facebook by 4 a.m. the morning after Election Day. As the hours passed on Wednesday, the numbers grew so large that organizers cancelled the event, citing difficulty in finding marshals for a march. Some 500 people gathered at Piedmont Park anyway, and a speakout and march followed.

Protesters described their horror and confusion about how this could have happened, but also pointed a way forward through organizing around the key issues that affect Atlanta: racism, poverty, immigrant rights.

The crowd took the streets near the historic Fox Theater, where Trump appeared earlier this year while on the campaign trail. Next, the crowd joined forces with people coming out of the Atlanta Hawks' game and proceeded to march through downtown. The mood started with reassurance and ended with defiance.

In Seattle, hundreds of outraged people marched on Election Night. The next day, there was an anti-Trump walkout at West Seattle High School, and in the late afternoon, several thousand people met downtown for a speakout. After an hour of speeches, the protest marched throughout downtown, back to the original starting point and then departed on another round.

The chants reflected the multitude of issues that people were concerned about in the wake of Trump's election, such as "We are the 99 Percent," "Black lives matter," "Trans lives matter," and "Immigrant lives matter." But Trump got his share as well: "Hey hey, ho ho, Trump's misogyny has to go," "The sexist, racist doesn't represent us" and, of course, "Fuck Trump."

Five hours after it had begun, the march reached the University of Washington nearly five miles away, gathering people along the way until the crowd numbered more than 5,000 and filled the main plaza on campus, which is called Red Square. Along the way, passersby and even drivers stuck in traffic caused by the march flashed thumbs-up signs.

The marchers were overwhelmingly young--perhaps a majority had come of age politically during the Obama years. Their shock, fear and rage were visceral. People talked of crying profusely on Election Night. One woman said that over half the people at her office had gone home "sick of Trump" halfway through the day.

In Minneapolis, thousands came out on Thursday night to join an anti-Trump rally at the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota, and then marched through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood before blocking the I-94 highway.

This neighborhood has a tradition of cultural diversity and today is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the U.S. Many motorists honked horns in support, and community members came outside from homes and stores to wave and cheer in solidarity with the marchers.

The crowd spread their message through a great variety of chants, including "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump, go away!" "We reject the president elect!" and "Say it loud, say it clear: Refugees are welcome here!"

In the Bay Area in California, anti-Trump protests began almost immediately. As soon as the result was announced, students from the University of California-Berkeley left their dorms to march through Berkeley and Oakland, chanting "Fuck Donald Trump." On Wednesday morning, grim-faced tech workers commiserated, while students at Berkeley High School took to the streets around 9 a.m. joined by several teachers.

On Wednesday evening, a thousand or so protesters marched down Market Street in downtown San Francisco. "I was at home by myself, crying," said Jim, a man in his mid-30s. "I'm new here, I moved from Florida, and I don't have friends yet. But being here." He looked as if he might cry again, but this time out of a sense of relief that he's not the only one.

As the march moved along, it kept growing, perhaps doubling in size.

In Portland, Oregon, 3,000 protesters took to the streets the night after Election Day. At its height, thousands of protesters closed traffic on the Morison Bridge, one of the city's main thoroughfares, and then marched onto the freeway.

"Staying home doesn't feel like an option," said college student Jack Eikrem. "Trump is frightening. We have to have our voices heard, people have to know we didn't choose this." One woman said it was her first protest ever. "Seeing all these people makes me think we might be okay," she said.

Portland's police were absent for the whole protest, which stands in stark contrast to their usual aggressive tactics toward protesters. The absence of police seemed a political calculation by Portland's political establishment. However, as the week went on, there were many more confrontations with police--and this likely gave confidence to the unidentified gunmen who fired six shots at a march early Saturday morning, wounding one protester.

In Madison, Wisconsin, on the night after Trump's election, the ISO had already been planning a rally against sexual assault at University of Wisconsin-Madison, but with the election of a self-described sexual predator as president, the event immediately took on added urgency. More than 500 people, mainly students, gathered on campus and proceeded to march down State Street and take a key intersection during rush hour.

The rally then proceeded to Langdon Street, which is home to many fraternities and notorious for being the site of many sexual assaults and racist incidents. The rally finished back on campus with a chance for speakers to share their experiences.

The rally came a few weeks after new details emerged about Alec Cook, an undergraduate student at UW-Madison accused of assaulting five women since March 2015. Frustrations grew with the realization that UW Police had known that Cook was a potential threat and failed to act.

Hayley Archer, a student at UW-Madison's Law School, stressed that sexual assault is a part of a larger issue of attacks on women's autonomy. "The president-elect is a rapist who says he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade," she said. "That's no coincidence! And he is not the first president to assault women. He is not the first to attack the right to abortion."

In Washington, D.C., there were four simultaneous actions the day after the election. A multiracial group of more than 200, many 20- and 30-somethings at their first protest, met at the African American Civil War Memorial for a short rally, before marching down the middle of U Street NW and then 14th Street NW.

"All of my clients today were crying," said a sexual assault counselor at a major D.C.-area university, as she wiped away her own tears. The march drew many spectators, with their cell phone cameras held high, off the sidewalks into the streets for their first demonstration.

Some Democratic Party field operatives declared the march the "first day of the 2020 campaign!" While this drew a round of applause and cheers, other speakers challenged Clinton's and the Democrats' role in the move to the right and the Trump victory, drawing cheers from the same people.

A Democratic field operative also started a "We are all Americans" chant, totally tone-deaf to the fact that D.C. is an international city--and, more importantly, to the fact that many in the crowd were undocumented.

In Cincinnati, more than 1,000 people marched through downtown on November 12 in one of the most dynamic protests the city has seen in years.

The event began with an assembly led by Black Lives Matter and the Countdown to Conviction Coalition at the Hamilton County Courthouse. The crowd grew in size as it became clear that there was a hung jury in the case of Ray Tensing, the University of Cincinnati police officer who shot and killed Sam Dubose after pulling him over for missing a front license plate.

A few blocks away, anti-Trump protesters were gathering on Fountain Square. With organizers deciding to postpone the official protest about the Tensing verdict to November 19, anti-Trump marchers departed north toward Central Parkway. After several speakers were heard at the courthouse, that group marched west where cops had arranged their bikes end to end in an attempt to contain the crowd.

The crowd of some 200 people then turned south, surprising police, and joined forces with 200 to 300 Black Lives Matter marchers. The cops tried to reset their bicycle fence, but didn't have time or enough bikes. The combined group squeezed between and around the police officers and headed south, returning to Fountain Square and meeting up with additional anti-Trump protesters.

The crowd then swelled to more than 1,000, taking over entire streets, blocking traffic and pausing at several intersections to chant, "Whose streets? Our streets!" and "Hands up, don't shoot!" The combined march snaked around the city, keeping the police guessing and passing by City Hall before circling around and entering Washington Park.

In Philadelphia, about 250 protesters gathered on Friday in the nation's poorest big city for a third night of protest. After a number of activists spoke for about an hour, protesters marched from City Hall to Independence Hall, chanting "Black lives matter," "My body, my choice" and "Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like."

"He's incited violence, he has sexually assaulted women, and if we don't come out here and protest, then things will never change," said Rahul, a 29-year-old protester.

In Athens, Ohio, about 200 people came out to hear a panel of five speakers representing various organizations. After the speeches, protesters took the streets to march around the city, and their numbers swelled to around 300.

Members of student organizations based at Ohio University spoke about the need to build solidarity in order to fight against all the oppressions Trump represents and will continue to perpetuate. These groups included FuckRapeCulture, the Latino Student Union, the Multicultural Activists Coalition (MAC), and the ISO.

"I'm 21, and I was excited to vote in my first election," said Sasha Estrella-Jones, a member of MAC. "But when I looked at the two options, I thought it was a joke...there is no lesser of two evils."

In Palo Alto, California, members of the Black student affinity house at Stanford University called a protest in the hour before Trump's victory became official. Around 150 students were there at its peak.

It was framed as a place to heal and process the news, with plenty of students crying openly. Around 15 people took the megaphone over the course of the event, venting their fear for their undocumented and Muslim extended family, calling for vigilance and unity, alternately condemning and praising Clinton.

The vice-provost and a prominent Black faculty member spoke as well. The freshman who organized the event led us in a chant of "the people united will never be defeated" and people left singing the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

In Portland, Maine, hundreds of people attended a unity vigil the day after the stunning presidential result dropped. On the event's Facebook page, the organizers acknowledged the need for people to "stand together" in "public displays of action," but insisted, "We are gathering as a community to support/offer love. This is not a political protest."

During the event, people in the crowd offered free hugs and candles, and religious figures led the crowd in prayer. As the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" played, the crowd was led out of the square, but several dozen people stayed to raise their voices and take to the streets. However most of the energy had dissipated into the cold night air.

This was unfortunate. With an escalation in the last few days of violent attacks directed perpetrated against Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people, women and other marginalized groups, it's essential to organize massive, coordinated resistance against Trump and Trumpism--now.

The success of our movement depends on the left's ability to offer serious political leadership in these rare moments when masses of ordinary people break from their everyday routines and show up willing to resist.

Jessica Cerullo, Victor Fernandez, Amy Gaidis, Kate Jeffreys, Craig Johnson, Leonard Klein, Steve Leigh, Ryan Powers, Eric Ruder, Laura Snedeker, Cole Sutton, Hannah Utain-Evans, Rebekah Ward, Lilian Wehbe, John Ward West, Christopher Zimmerly-Beck and Dave Zirin contributed to this article.

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