The signs at last night’s anti-Donald Trump march did not want for creativity: “Still we rise;” “Donald Putin;” “Love will win;” “Fuck Trump.”
About five thousand people, with plenty joining and peeling off throughout, marched through downtown Denver to protest the president-elect Thursday evening. The peaceful protest, which started at 5:30 p.m. at the Capitol building, caused traffic snarls, including a brief partial closure of I-25.
Chants of “Not my president,” “This is what democracy looks like” and various call-and-repeats punctuated the journey. The sentiment was peaceful but raucous, by turns celebratory, defiant and mournful. Organizers encouraged attendees to get to know one another.
As the protesters made their way down the 16th Street Mall, some passersby enjoying an evening downtown cheered. Some joined, some rolled their eyes. Many took photos.
Africa Bethel, 19, a student at the Denver Art Institute, voted for the first time this year. She attended the protest because she thinks Trump is racist and sexist, and thus unfit for the Oval Office.
Her father is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She believes that Trump’s presidency will rally those with bigoted views toward immigrants.
“People’s true colors are going to start to come out,” she said.
Matt McCormick, 25, a Denver resident, had similar concerns. As a queer person of color, he thinks that his country will be less safe for him under a Trump administration.
“His supporters will be emboldened to act upon their vitriol and hatred,” he said.
A 36-year-old-woman who declined to be named in this story said she had a hard time participating in the march. She hates crowds and quietly wept as she held her sign, which read, “Sexual assault is not presidential.” She started trauma therapy a year ago for sexual abuse and said she marched to help herself heal and to be voice for survivors.
“The fact that we put a sexual offender in the White House is crushing,” she said through tears.
The woman said that she had felt apprehensive about participating, but that other marchers had been supportive and encouraging.
Hassan Alzerjawi, 22, is an international student from Iraq. He carried his country’s flag to show solidarity between Iraq and the United States in defeating ISIS.
“I want to show that we are actually the same,” he said. “We have freedom. This flag represents freedom.”
Alzerjawi said that he was received positively, with hugs and requests to take photos of him with his flag.
When the crowd made it back to the Capitol building, organizers made an attempt at a moment of silence. Attendees quieted down and raised their arms to demonstrate unity. The silence lasted about 30 seconds before the chants began again:
“We – reject – the president-elect!”
“No hatred – no fear – immigrants are welcome here!”
Organizers are planning another protest to take place on Sunday. Details can be found on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent