Students across the East Bay stage protests in response to Trump electoral victory
on November 9, 2016
On Wednesday, students at four East Bay high schools staged walkouts in protest of Donald Trump’s electoral victory, while #NotMyPresident trended on social media.
At Oakland Technical High School in North Oakland, around 200 students gathered on the front steps during their lunch break with signs reading “Not My President.” Others got to their knees to draw handprints and slogans on a bright red banner. While they spoke calmly, students were outraged by the presidential result and said the president-elect did not represent them.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s shocking. I’m scared,” said Fredrikka Lake, 16. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Student Emily Schweizer, 15, said, “We practically elected Hitler 2.0. It’s not the same, but it’s the same type of rhetoric: the anti-particular religion, the anti-people who aren’t white. It’s all the same.”
Josh Curry, 14, said he’s worried Trump is going to turn the country into a horror movie. “There’s gonna be new laws, and he’s gonna make it like, I don’t know, like Purge and stuff like that. He’s gonna make different stuff happen that Obama didn’t,” he said.
Curry also fears for the future of immigrants in the country. “They love the United States, you know? They got the right to stay out here,” he said.
English and history teacher Nicholas Rey said the demonstration was understandable. “Students feel hopeless and powerless in a lot of cases and so they’re turning to mass action as a mode of expressing their anger, and I totally support it,” he said. “My message to my students today is that they have more power than they think. They are the most politically-conscious group of students I have ever seen. They are outraged and they are motivated. It gives me hope.”
Johanney Langill, a math teacher at the school, said, “I spent last night crying. At first I was a little worried, and I’ve been telling kids to do hard things that will make a difference, not just easy things that are fun. I just want to see this turn into meaningful action.”
Matt Colley, an English and history teacher, said he had talked to students about the result in class. “I think today there’s a real sense of urgency and need for people to speak their mind, for people to express themselves, for people to come together in unity and for people to be there to really hold each other up,” he said.
In his classroom this morning, he said, “there was a lot of sadness, there was a lot of fear, there was a lot of anxiety around people really feeling that their identities are under attack, for who they are. For their immigration status, for their race, for their religion, for their gender identity, sexual orientation. And this is beyond Republican-Democrat. There’s a real sense of people feeling under threat. I think that in an election that was so divisive, this feeling of people coming together and being there to hold each other in support, is really, really important, and I think as teachers and as a school we have a responsibility to try and help that process.”
Valerie Goode, a spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) said the district supported the student protests. “We want to support and help out students to be critical thinkers, fully informed of what’s going on in the world. We want to support them and create spaces where they can develop into the civic leaders of the world,” said Goode.
Elsewhere in the district, students at Bishop O’Dowd High School participated in a peaceful assembly in the institution’s quad at 9:30 a.m. The space was organized by the school’s administration, who wanted to give students a safe space to express their feelings about last night’s election.
“Our students are to be commended for their hopeful messaging, prayer, and calls to work together on issues of inclusion, love and respect,” said Lisa Coffey-Mahoney, director of communications for the school.
At UC Berkeley about 2,000 students from the university and Berkeley High School, some dressed all in black, gathered in Sproul Plaza and on the steps of Sproul Hall, under a sign reading “Undocumented, unafraid.”
The protest was peaceful but mournful, with people chanting “This is what community looks like,” “This is what resistance looks like!” and “Not one more!” Protesters carried signs reading “Here to fight” and “Not my president,” as a group of students passed out flyers explaining the rights of protesters.
Among them, Saima Khan, a Muslim high schooler, said, “Right here we have a sense of community, which we need. I don’t know if we have a sense of community in the United States because the people voted for him, and he is against us, our people and people of color.”
Bianca Arellano, a Peace and Conflict Studies major at UC Berkeley, said she was disappointed and ashamed by the election results. “As a Chicana Mexican citizen, I am in fear for my undocumented Mexican family. I am in fear for people in Mexico,” she said. “I see people walking down the street smiling like everything is okay. Right now we are literally mourning. It’s one of the biggest tragedies that I’ve ever experienced as an American.”
“People feel like their light is going out. But in a sense, these demonstrations show that no, the light is not going out. It’s growing stronger. We’re growing stronger as a force,” Arellano continued.
Gail Kurtz, 60, who works at UC Berkeley, sat quietly near students on the grass near Sproul Hall. “I think it’s important that these voices be heard, the voices of minority students and of people who don’t agree with Trump’s purported policies,” she said. “It’s important that we start out strong with voices across the nation that say we might not necessarily go along with what we’ve heard is coming.”
“It’s a devastating moment for me personally and for the nation,” Kurtz said. “We have to stand up and be the voice of democracy and decency. Starting with a protest like this is a good thing.”
Students at Richmond High School also planned a protest for Wednesday afternoon.
Nationally, 18 to 34-year-olds voted overwhelmingly for a Clinton victory. An electoral map taking into account only millennial voters shows young people would have given Clinton 473 electoral votes, against just 32 for Trump. While statistics for youth turnout Tuesday are still not available, California saw a significant increase in registered youth voter turnout for the primaries in June, compared to the 2012 presidential primary.
Meanwhile Oakland’s school board meeting for planned for tonight at Oakland City Hall has been cancelled due to safety concerns. Jody London, who was re-elected as director for District 1, said this was because of reports of a planned protest at city hall this evening. “It’s certainly a circumstance we cannot control,” she said.
Contributors to this article include Andrew Beale, Abner Hauge, Cassady Rosenblum, Brian Krans, Margaret Katcher, Rachel Loyd, and Ryan Lindsay.
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