SMC Students Protest Day After Election
Upon arrival to campus on Wednesday, the campus was eerily quiet with occasional political conversation that broke the deflated silence. Some students walked in a dispirited posture while trying to wrap their brains around the presidential election that took place just several hours prior.
However, not all students wanted to be silent.
The students of SMC united on Wednesday to protest the election of our 45th President, Donald Trump. Hundreds of students gathered in the quad to show their disapproval of our nation's decision holding signs and international flags, and chanting “Not My President.” Students hugged and cried with their professors as members of SMC faculty and staff gathered as well to spectate on the assembly including SMC President Dr. Kathryn Jeffery.
The rally started with the president of the Homeboys and Homegirls Club, Edgar Gonzalez, thanking everyone for gathering last minute to support the cause. A podium was set up with a microphone where several students addressed their fellow peers and share their stories of how the election of Mr. Trump will affect them and their families.
“This walk is not just for us, it’s for all the LGBT groups, it’s for undocumented [people], it’s [against] all the racism and sexism that exists, and we will not allow that in this country, in this school,” said Mayra Torres, a member of the Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success Club, or I.D.E.A.S. club. “Let us stand together in love and in peace.”
Gonzalez then led the student activists through the quad as they yelled at the top of their lungs in a very uniform and militarized fashion. “People want to know, who we are. So we tell them, we are the students.” The voices of hundreds echoed through the SMC campus being noticed by anyone who managed to still get to class after the long election night before.
One of those in earshot was Karina Lopez, a member of the SMC Republicans Club.
“The United States turned red last night and I get chills thinking about it because it’s crazy. And it just shows how people are sick and tired of being pushed around by their government and that’s really what this is all about,” said Lopez. “I hope that eventually people will see that he’s trying to bring the American public together instead of dividing us.”
After reaching Pico Boulevard, the group was met by another Trump supporter who police addressed as Josue. He yelled curse words and insults at the anti-Trump group.
“They’re one sided. And that’s what I hate.” said Josue, who claimed to a be a Marine Corps Veteran in Afghanistan. He took off his shirt and ran down the street as he yelled in the faces of Associated Students President Terrance Ware Jr. and Vice President Adrian Restrepo, who were guiding the march and keeping students from flooding onto the street.
Among those marching was Jennifer Benitas, a member of the Adelante Club, and an advocate for the upcoming Gender Equity Center on campus.
“It doesn’t matter if [Donald Trump] was who you voted for or not. We all have to unite, we all have to come together, we all have to love each other and organize. We can’t let this happen, we can’t just sit back and take it. It’s time to take it all down,” said Benitas.
Crossing the streets and halting traffic for moments at a time, the large group eventually came to a stop in front of the library on the main campus. A bullhorn was passed around to anyone who asked for it, including A.S. President Ware who held up an American flag in the middle of the crowd.
“When you leave here, you should be empowered, you should go out and do something,” said Ware. “Do not leave here today and do nothing. That makes everything that we have done here today worthless. We are not worthless.”
After the demonstration, student leaders and advocates for civil rights gathered around a table to discuss the election and the events that took place on campus.
Some students who gathered from the I.D.E.A.S. club were also DACA students.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy passed by President Obama as an executive action that exempts undocumented immigrants from deportation if they entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before June 2007. DACA recipients are also given a renewable two year work permit.
“With Trump’s victory, everything that the country has worked for [for the undocumented community] just took a 180 degree turn and went backwards,” said Carlos Santiago, a member of the I.D.E.A.S. club who was able to get a job at SMC thanks to DACA. “I was able to get the AB540, the Dream Act, and all that stuff. And literally scholarships, internships, all of that, could be taken away from me.”
President of the Democratic Club Matthew Linsky felt it was too little too late. “I was at the Democratic Headquarters last night. People were losing their shit. Crying. All races, all genders, everything, and I haven’t seen you guys around. I see you now, but what good does this do? It’s over. The game is over. We didn’t even play the game, so now we’re bitching about losing,” said Linsky.
Everyone that marched Tuesday showed every intention of continuing their fight to be heard.
Associated Students Director of Publicity Clara Prado, who has experienced her fair share of protesting in her home country of Brazil, gave her input on where she sees the direction of these protests going.
“Back home, I did it a lot. The protests in Brazil, and they got really violent. Me and the board [spoke last night] and we were like ‘Okay, we need to be safe we need to make sure everybody is safe’ and I was really worried about [it getting violent],” said Prado. “But it went well, so I’m really proud of SMC.”