Scores of Students Engage in Anti-Trump Protests

Photo by J. Bryce Wachtell/ The Choate News

Sandra Leon ’19 jubilantly protests at the Women’s March in Hartford, Conn., following inauguration day.

Protesters turned out in crowds of half a million plus last Saturday, January 21 for the Women’s March on Washington following a controversial inauguration day. At the same time, millions more participated in “sister marches” held in over 600 locations worldwide. Dozens of spirited Choate students were among them.

Choate Young Democrats, Choate Diversity Student Association (CDSA), Students Advocating Gender Equality (SAGE), and SPECTRUM coordinated to allow students to participate in the sister march in Hartford, Conn. Approximately 70  member of the community, both students and faculty members, traveled to the protest via Choate transportation, but several dozen more went independently to rallies and marches in Washington, New England, and elsewhere.

Protesters wave a variety of signs during the Women’s March in Hartford, advocating for women’s rights and responding to the beginning of Trump’s controversial administration.

Mohammad Memfis ’17, President of Young Democrats, commented, “The way to solve problems is through compassion, empathy, and a willingness to make change. Being here at this march sparks that by motivating us, by getting us energized, and by granting us the feeling that we are part of a greater people.”

During the march, Memfis clutched a sign with a gleaming picture of Hillary Clinton and the caption, “Engage with purpose. Organize with heart. Win every day.” He commented, “As young people, it’s our job to be on the front lines of making change. This is about a cycle of trying to make things better for everyone — trying to create opportunity.”

Esteban Mogollon ’18, another Hartford rally attendee, remarked, “I think the Women’s March isn’t just about women, but about everyone who will suffer under this demagogue we now have in the highest office of this nation.”

Joshua Gonzalez ’17 was more critical of the March. “I think that, obviously, these people are exercising their freedom of expression — a freedom we all have as Americans — and I very much appreciate that they have the ability to do that. But I think gestures like this, in particular gestures aimed at President Trump, were actually a motivating force behind getting people to vote for him. These gestures have only made the political environment more divisive,” he said.

Lily James ’17, who participated in the largest of the marches (in Washington) said, “I’m glad that I went to D.C. The atmosphere was one of extraordinary excitement, compassion, rebellion, and love. Everyone was so kind, generous,and happy to be there; there was no pushing in the crowds, even though it was packed. It was just an incredible experience, sort of hard to put into words.” She added, “We broke the record for largest protest in history, with over 3.1 million people marching around the country!”

Despite the march’s goal to promote equality, predominantly white and straight national organizers were regularly steeped in controversy leading up to Saturday. Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and others accused organizers of dismissing intersectionality in womanhood and touting so called “white feminism.”

“It’s interesting that the main organizers of the event are white women,” said Blair Cox ’17, President of the Choate Afro-Latino Student Association (CALSA). She added, “Black women showed up to vote for Hillary — white women were the ones who didn’t — but white women are now like, ‘Oh, we have to fix everything!’ It’s never about sisterhood unless white women need something from the women of color community.”

Nonetheless, attendance was high across the globe in places like Frankfurt, London, and Tokyo, and the crowd of approximately 10,000 in Hartford was composed of a diverse array of people and signs.

“Love Trumps Hate,” said one poster. Another read, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” Dozens of signs proclaimed, “Nasty Women.” A large “Press for Truth” poster was adjacent to a crossed-out Twitter logo captioned “Lead with Dignity.” There were also several witty references to personified genitalia “grabbing back.”

“Trump’s election is one of those moments in history that is very peculiar. We are going to be defined by how we act from here,” said Mogollon, with a hidden but ever-present passion. “There is an ever-present feeling of hope, even when one might take this all to be hopeless,” he said.

James added, “It felt like this was democracy. The march definitely fired me up to take action.”

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