Anti-hate protests against newly elected President Donald Trump commenced at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 in Iowa City, Iowa. These protests began at the Pentacrest, as people spoke to the crowd, telling them why Trump could not be the next president.
As people became fired up, they went to the streets, sitting in the intersection and blocking traffic. Minutes later, they began marching through the streets, reaching interstate I-80 in 30 minutes time. They blocked traffic on the interstate for nearly an hour, chanting, praying and letting their voices be heard.
Iowa, being an important swing state, went into Republican hands on Nov. 8, the night of the election, but Johnson County was one county that proved to be an exception. The democratic town of Iowa City would not stand for who their state had chosen.
The evening was filled with chants such as, “Not my president,” and “Can’t grab this pussy,” as local business owners and students from high school and college levels took a stand against hate. High school students also participated in protests at their schools.
“We want to show everyone that love can win . . . Today will show people who our voices will not be silenced. We are not going to stop no matter what and we will keep fighting,” said West High sophomore Madison Molina. “This is my option since I cannot vote. I am using my voice to let others know that I am still here and I care.”
Iowa City High School student Amelia Morrow also attended the protest to voice her opinion, as someone who was under the legal voting age.
“This is all I can do since I couldn’t vote this year,” Morrow said. “I am here because I don’t like what the president stands for and we need our voices heard.”
But not all were so keen on participating in the protest. Many who passed by became angered at the actions of the rally. Some drove by yelling Trump, while a group of men stood on their balcony as the protesters walked by repeatedly chanting, “White boy privilege.” One viewer at the rally felt uneasy with the rallies motives.
“I walked over there and I told them that I was not taking sides. And then they told me, ‘fuck off.’ That made me uncomfortable,” said the passer-by at the start of the protest. “We should all be united. We are one country.”
After the protest reached the interstate, stopped drivers did not see any impact of the event as they honked their horns and shouted depraved remarks at the protesters. One passenger in a car said, “This isn’t going to do anything about Trump. It won’t have an impact. I wish they would go home.”
Another driver became impatient, getting the police involved. Protester John Longsin was distressed after being addressed by the police.
“As we were walking, cars got impatient. This woman got aggressive and started moving towards me at which point I tapped the top of her hood to say ‘Hey, I’m here. Don’t run me over,” Longsin said. “And immediately after, she got out of her car all indignant and said that I broke her mirror. I wasn’t trying to cause trouble with anybody, I was trying to protect all the people who were around me.”
But despite these outsider remarks, the participants did not lose sight of what they were fighting for. West High sophomore Amelia Watson is one protester who will not give up hope.
“There have been people who have passed by and said that they are happy Trump won,” Watson said. “I do not agree with Trump’s policies or him as a person, but if it was just a fault with him as a person, why would we be here?”
Protester Jeannette Gabriel knew exactly why they were there.
“We can’t have business as usual while all our democratic rights are being stripped away from us,” Gabriel said. “This will have an impact [that is] important for two main reasons; one is to tell all the attackers out there who are carrying out acts of violence that we will fight back and we will not tolerate it. The second is to tell Trump that he has no mandate to rule. This is a constitutional crisis in this country, and we will take action until he realizes he can’t carry on as president.”
As the night went on, the hope of an impact shined brightly in the protesters eyes as they gained a sense of national power.
“The protests all around the country have an impact. We are doing this because we saw people in other states doing it,” said Iowa City resident Carley Maur. “If more places do this, then more people will rise up, and we will have more power.”
By the end of the protest, the impact had struck the hearts of every participant and had given them pride in having their voices heard.
“When you petition what you think is wrong with a group this size in downtown Iowa City, people pay way more attention to it then if you sat and stood,” said West High senior Jena Shaver. “This is basically everyone here saying I have a voice, I know I have a voice, we need to speak up and we need to tell people this is wrong.”
Fellow senior Anaya McCutcheon held tight to her belief that this protest would make a difference for the next four years in the United States of America.
“It’s very impactful that there is so many people here. We all have a voice and we all want to be heard,” McCutcheon said. “It shows that this is America, this is a democracy and even though the electoral college voted Trump, . . . we can make a change.”
The protest ended at 6:30 p.m. after police made protesters exit the interstate. They marched back to the Pentacrest through the streets.
More protests will be held throughout the week starting at the Pentacrest.
Photos by Teresa Knecht.
Video by Fenna Semken.