Over 70 members of the University community, including students, faculty and staff, gathered on Friday morning to protest the election of Donald Trump.
Julian Perez ’17, co-president of the Princeton University Latinx Perspectives Organization, said the demonstrators were there to stand against the values that Trump and his supporters prescribe to.
He acknowledged that hateful sentiments and hostile actions are not new for marginalized groups, but that the protest was organized to show that these groups are united and will not back down given Trump’s presidential victory.
“It’s another reminder that we have a lot of work to do, and that we have to fight. This is also a call to action,” he said.
For the protest, participants were encouraged to wear clothing and bring items that were symbolic to them. Perez explained that he wore his University sweatshirt as “a reminder to the University that they owe [him] and other marginalized groups more than they have been providing.”
Perez thanked several other universities, including Columbia, Stanford, and Cornell, for participating in anti-Trump protests, and noted that the protesters at the University stand in solidarity with them.
Perez then spoke about his personal perspective of the election results. “For me, I was very angry at the results, but I really wasn’t surprised. Given that Trump was a candidate, I really didn’t expect him to win but once he did, and once I saw the voters’ splits, I really wasn’t surprised that he won,” Perez said, referring to the demographic and ideological composition of Trump supporters.
Perez explained that he was very angry towards white America, adding that 70 percent of white men voted for Trump and that white women didn’t support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t something I was surprised by, but seeing it displayed in my face, it felt like a slap in the face to me, and I think it felt like a slap in the face to a lot of people,” he said.
Perez thanked participants for coming to the protest, noting that individuals may still be coping with the results and dealing with its implications.
“I know it’s hard,” he said, “and I think it’s very important to remind people to practice self-care and to heal. Trump isn’t new, but it’s definitely a very important event in American history and it’s something that we all need to process.”
Anhar Karim ’18, a member of the Princeton Muslim Advocates for Social Justice, spoke about how after Trump’s win, his mother advised him to lay low with respect to his identity as a Muslim. “I told her no, and it was hard to say no. But I think it’s important for us to not hide right now.”
He later added, “The President-elect has made it clear what he thinks about a large portion of our country … It’s important for us to understand as Americans that we don’t need to hide, that this is our country as well, and that we have a right to not be silenced by that kind of rhetoric.”
During an interview with the Daily Princetonian, Karim noted that he came to the protest to emphasize that MASJID and the Muslim community are standing in solidarity with other groups affected by the result of the election, noting that this is overall an American issue, not just an issue for the Muslim community.
Perez then opened the discussion to individuals of the protest so they too could speak, and several participants shared their personal objections to Trump’s election. From stories of individuals being taunted with, “Go back home! We’re going to build a wall!” to a reminder of Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s hostile actions towards the LGBT community, speakers emphasized the solidarity we have to have moving forward to protect people’s lives.
The protest ended with chants of “The people, united, will never be divided!” and individuals broke off into smaller groups to share their worries and concerns.
Leezet Matos ’18 said that she joined the protest to be a part of a support system.
“I think a lot of people are going around campus with this very business-as-usual kind of ideology, but I think this is meant to disrupt everyday life and say, look, this is actually a state of emergency,” she said, adding that while there are those who may not feel impacted by Trump’s election, there are people throughout the campus and the country who see it as a violation of their rights.
“We can’t stand by and not do anything, so that’s why I came here,” she said.
Noting on the violence that has occurred since the election, Amina Simon ’18 said that she came to the protest to stand against the harassment of marginalized groups. “Donald Trump’s election makes it a lot easier for violence to be committed against a lot of humans immediately,” she explained. “We’ve already seen so much harassment and violence against people of color, women, queer people, Muslim people, etc, and I don’t believe that’s something we can allow in our country. I’m here to support that I won’t allow it.”
Another protest participant, who was granted anonymity for privacy reasons, shared their fears of the impending Trump administration. “I personally feel like the fear from the repercussions from this election will literally affect a lot of groups here on campus. Being a queer black woman, you’re terrified for your life.
“We will not be walked over and will definitely fight for our rights and hopefully convince other people that we matter,” she said.
Arlene Gamio ’18 noted that this protest was to stand in solidarity with activist collaborators at other universities, such as Columbia and Cornell. They added that the University community, through the immigrants’ rights organization the DREAM Team, stands in solidarity with community organizers in New Jersey, and held a protest Wednesday night to object Trump’s election. Gamio also spoke about getting the University to have a call to action to protect marginalized groups who may be threatened by the impending Trump administration, and following the protest Gamio began collecting signatures to organize a group to do so.
During his closing statements, Perez added that now is the time to become a better ally to support friends and peers who may feel threatened by Trump’s election. “I want to remind you all that this is the time to fight and protect … This is the perfect time to use whatever privileges you have to protect people. Anyone who’s in direct danger or indirect danger from Trump and the people backing him, have to be protected,” he said.
The walkout and protest began at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, and took place outside on Frist Campus Center’s North Lawn.
Associate News Editor Claire Lee contributed to reporting.