By Simon Vaillancourt
Nearly 300 community members, Bonita Vista High School alumni and Southwestern College students rallied together on Nov. 18 on SWC’s campus against the results of the recent presidential election. The protest began at Mayan Hall with numerous speeches, followed by walking the campus while reciting numerous chants against racism, homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny.
The event was organized by students; film major Abigail Flores and Associated Student Organization President Mona Dibas. The students received help from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a third party political group. BVH 08’ alumnus “Ryan Stray” is a member of PSL’s San Diego branch and helped setup the protest. Stray uses a pseudonym to “protect his identity” out of fear his work as an activist will attract the attention of law enforcement.
“Theses types of protests basically have a couple of purposes. The first one is to get everybody out and show opposition to an existing policy. We are trying to make sure that everybody knows that there is a vocal anti-Trump presence in not just San Diego but nationally. You don’t build by shouting, you have to do some serious ground work and put work in,” Stray said.
Stray spearheaded the majority of the protest, while Flores publicized the event. She set up an event page on Facebook dedicated to the protest and over 1,000 people were invited from around the community. Before the set start time at 4:30 p.m., organizers created and distributed handmade picket signs.
“I decided to organize this protest and to be here today because I don’t agree with what happened this recent week, with Trump being elected. I am completely against what he brings to this country. It’s not just him, but the hatred that has been brought on to people of color, to Muslims, to gay people. People need to feel safe. People need to understand that there is a community willing to fight and willing to protect them,” Flores said.
Various administrators and professors from SWC participated at the protest as well, including the newest board member Roberto Alcantar, who gave the final speech to the crowd of protesters.
“I am here today because I want to make sure that students see that I am with them. I know they are scared. I know there is a lot of rhetoric going on at the federal level. There are a lot of students here that are Latino or Muslim. I want to make sure that they know they are safe here and that governing board members will stand with them to make sure that we will protect them,” Alcantar said.
Several news stations, such as ABC and NBC were present at the event, many of which warned of potential violence. The protesters hoped that the coverage would inform people on a national scale that there are people willing to stand up for their rights as citizens.
“Every voice is important, we don’t know who in this crowd can create the biggest change in this world. We are letting people know they have a voice and that they have people standing behind them ready to unite,” Dibas said.
Political science major and BVH 16’ alumnus Roberto Limon marched to promote political involvement at all levels of education.
“Students have to be more aware. In high school, people who aren’t involved in any clubs or any sort of organization are unaware of anything that is going on. When I transferred into my first semester in college, I was able to really understand the depth of what this election means, what it is representing and what it says about the current state of America,” Limon said.
Although the protest was a peaceful event, a small amount of students came to express their frustrations with the participants. SWC student Juan Carlos Hernandez read a speech advocating for the electoral college and accepting the results of the election, only to be interrupted numerous times by protesters. He left shortly after, limiting direct interaction with the protesters.
“By choosing to participate in this childish tantrum, you help the ones who want to keep the power get what they want. Trump has proposed lower taxes, lower healthcare premiums, more jobs for America, more growth for business, and more money in our pockets, and they’re mad? No matter how much stomping their feet and crying, Trump is going to be our president and there is nothing we can do about it. The time for this action was before the election,” Hernandez said in his speech.
Protests continue across the nation, aspiring to make a change in the political sphere. The protesters remain hopeful, looking to past successes as motivation.
“We are a country of protest. We started off with the Tea Party back when we were a young nation. We did it during the civil rights movement. We did it during the suffrage movement. Now we are doing it for the good of our nation and really standing up for racial justice and equality,” Alcantar said.