Less than twenty-four hours after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States, thousands of Angelinos took to the streets to voice their discontent.
More than 5,000 people, including dozens of students from the Claremont colleges, gathered at Los Angeles City Hall at around 7 p.m., waving Mexican flags and burning a giant effigy of the President-elect. They proceeded to march throughout the downtown area, belting a cacophony of chants such as “Not my president,” “Love trumps hate,” “No Trump, no K.K.K., no fascist U.S.A,” and “F— Trump.”
At around 10 PM, hundreds of protestors shut down portions of the 101 Freeway near the Alvarado Street southbound entrance. By 1:30 a.m., the freeway had been cleared of demonstrators by police officers in full tactical gear. Twenty-nine people were arrested for refusing to disperse.
According to Los Angeles Police Department Information Director Josh Rubenstein, the protests were non-violent, with the exception of some protestors throwing rocks at officers and minor acts of vandalism.
Trump’s victory sparked similar demonstrations in several cities across the country in the immediate aftermath of what has been dubbed as one the biggest presidential election upsets in U.S. history. Protesters nationwide condemned the President-elect’s policy proposals—which include a ban on Muslim immigration and the building of a wall along the U.S.’s southern border—as well as his perceived pandering to white nationalists and his overtly sexist and misogynistic remarks.
Earlier in the day, classrooms across the Claremont consortium abandoned their syllabi to discuss the election and its ramifications. Students, faculty, and staff expressed a general sense of discomfort, fear, anger, and disbelief. Pomona’s Draper Center for Community Partnerships offered to reimburse students’ travel expenses in and out of Los Angeles to facilitate their participation in the rally.
“I felt a little helpless and hopeless on campus [after the election],” said Aurora Silva PO ’16, a ninth-semester senior. “My position as someone who isn’t going to be here in a couple weeks plays a lot into that. If I had more time here I’m sure I would care, but this isn’t where I want to organize.”
Silva, who identifies as a queer Latina, was one of the hundreds of demonstrators who shut down the 101. She plans on continuing to organize against a Trump presidency in the coming months.
“The rally made me feel hopeful for the future,” she said. “Democracy failed my communities, but still I have hope. I have to prioritize and graduate, but once that’s done I plan on helping mobilize the communities I am involved with, and it will be beautiful.”
Aiman Chaudhary PO ’17, an international student from Pakistan, also attended the protest as a way to show support to her communities.
“I am a Muslim, immigrant, woman, and person of color. What won on Tuesday night threatens my safety in this country,” she said.
Like Silva, Chaudhary also felt hopeful after attending the rally.
“[The rally] was cathartic,” she said. “It felt good to know there were people around me who care for and people like me and my undocumented, DACA-mented, and LGTBQ+ friends.”
A particularly impactful moment of the protest for many of the students came when the rally made its way toward the Metropolitan Detention Center. As the protestors made their way towards the highway, prisoners began to turn their cell lights on and off and shine flashlights in the direction of the marchers.
The rally proceeded to gather at the intersection of Alameda Street and Commercial Street, chanting “We want education, not mass incarceration,” “We see you,” and “Black lives matter.”
“Every single tiny window [of the detention center] was flickering their light in support of the march. It was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced and I started crying,” Gretchen Alexander SC ’19 said. “It was upsetting but seeing everyone in the detention was with us in the march was really incredible to see.”
Overall, students felt empowered by attending the rally. Christian Padilla PO ’18 expressed disappointment at the protest’s lack of a clear political motivation for the protest besides an anti-Trump sentiment.
Still, “the rally was important,” he said. “I hope that new coalitions form and people continue to mobilize and organize against fascism and everything [Trump] and white nationalism represents.”