Roughly 500 Elm City residents and Yale students gathered outside New Haven City Hall Thursday evening to protest the election of Donald Trump.
At the rally, which was organized by local activist association Unidad Latina en Acción, protesters took turns giving speeches and leading chants such as “no Trump, no KKK, no more racist USA,” “no papers, no fear” and “say it loud, say it clear, Muslims are welcome here.” Roughly an hour into the protest, the crowd began a march which looped around the New Haven Green down Temple Street before continuing onto Crown Street and returning to the courthouse on Church Street. The rally lasted from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
“We’re here tonight not because we want to say we’re opposed, because that’s not enough,” said Jesus Sanchez, a ULA activist, to the crowd. “We’re here to say that we’re not afraid. We’re here to say that we are uniting as people against this hatred. We’re here to say that the power of the people is more powerful, stronger than his hatred.”
Sanchez, who moved to the United States from Mexico in 2010, added that he would not tolerate Trump’s hate, misogyny, racism or xenophobia.
Activists at the front of the rally held an orange banner with the words “United Against Hatred, We Are Here to Stay.” Other attendees brought signs in English and Spanish with messages denouncing Trump and racism. A group of students from Slifka attended the event with signs that read “Jews against Trump because we’ve seen this before” and “Jews for love.”
Elm City resident Rachel Turecek, addressing the crowd after the march, said a parallel could be drawn between the reign of Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump’s potential acts as president. She said she did not want to look back upon possible human rights violations during Trump’s years in office and ask, “How did we let this happen?”
Fighting back tears, she expressed immense disappointment with the election results but also warned against division.
“I’ve never been more ashamed of my country in my entire life,” Turecek said. “They want us to hate each other. They want poor whites to hate Latinos. They want blacks to hate LGBTQ people. Enough.”
At least a dozen officers from the New Haven Police Department were present at the protest. When the crowd began to march, a patrol car cleared the path.
Elm City resident Daisy Long said she did not know about the protest ahead of time but saw it from the Green and came over, assuming it would be about Trump. His opposition to reproductive health care and his calls to deport illegal immigrants led her to oppose his presidency, she said. She believes he was elected in part because Americans did not want to elect a woman president, she added.
“I feel like our country was lost once we got him in the chair,” she said. “When I woke up the next day I felt like there was no hope for us.”
The protesters represented a diverse range of ages and backgrounds.
Jolie Eichler, a 13-year-old high school student and New Haven resident, said she thinks a Trump presidency is dangerous. Citizens who are not white and economically privileged will be victims to the adverse effects of his policies, she said.
“There are a lot of people who would like to help, but they can’t do that when the person who is [president] is someone like Trump,” Eichler said.
Herman Zuniga, an activist with ULA, told the crowd that Trump’s election is disgrace to past presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. His ascendancy also erases the progress that was made when Obama became the country’s first African-American president, he said. Zuniga arrived as an immigrant 29 years ago and spent 17 years fighting for his papers.
Immigrants have historically played a central role in building and supporting America, he added.
“We clean your offices,” he said. “We harvest your food.”
Marge Eichler SPH ’85 said she had never been so upset about an election in her life and she felt compelled to take a stand against hatred and bigotry. She added that people, including her, have been crying in the streets.
Yao Lin, whose wife is a graduate student at Yale, said he attended the protest to fight for a more open and bright future. His infant daughter was born in America and he wants a society that is more inclusive and welcoming of immigrant families and Asian-Americans.
But other members of the Yale community approached the protest with more hesitation.
Lina Xing ’17, the president of the Yale Political Union, said she opposes Trump and is in favor of protesting specific issues. But protesting Trump as an individual is unproductive, she said. Citizens should instead think about why he was elected in the first place, she added.
Xing also said these protests could inadvertently give Trump more power by justifying use of force and political suppression.
“How the public reacts to this transfer of power will determine a lot about the early days of his presidency,” she said. “The more civil unrest we see from people about Trump the more emboldened he will feel to use force and to suppress political dissidence.”
Protesters made plans for more action against Trump’s presidency. The activist group ANSWER Coalition will provide buses on Jan. 20 for New Haven residents to protest Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.
Stanley Heller, an activist with the Middle East Crisis Committee, told the crowd “the resistance” will have to be peaceful but disruptive.
“We used to go on strike,” he said. “Now we just vote for the Democrats and look where that got us.”
Citywide Youth Coalition Inc. will be hosting a solidarity rally on Friday.