In Wake of Trump Presidency Students Turn to Message of Radical Love

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First-year Mekael Daniel holds a sign at the “Make America Love Again” demonstration on Wednesday, Nov 9th. Photo by Austin Halpern

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, election results began rolling in across the nation. As John King feverishly tapped away at the live monitor of America, it quickly became evident that the prevailing sentiment that Hillary Clinton would take home the presidency had been misguided. At 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning Donald Trump took to the stage and accepted his position as the new leader of the United States. For first-year Cam Kaplan, the election results spoke loud and clear. “I was amazed that there were that many people in the country that hate me,” said Kaplan, an African American student. Kaplan was joined by her fellow students of color on campus as well as hundreds of LGBTQ activists and students of all races on Worner Quad on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 9 for a demonstration termed “Make America Love Again.” With Donald Trump now at the helm of the nation, students were faced with some disconcerting truths about their country.

By 3 a.m. ET the election had been ceded by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was officially president. In light of this immovable fact, the demonstration was termed useless or futile by some onlookers. Zak Kroger, Residential Life and Activities Program Coordinator, didn’t see much potential in the gathering. As to what the demonstration could achieve Kroger said, “Harsh truth: nothing. The protests you mean, oh absolutely nothing. I think it’s a good outlet for students to feel like there voices are heard, but it’s a democracy. The people have spoken. That’s it.”

For Student Body President Annika Kastetter, the demonstration served as a place for students to heal collectively from a shocking and emotional election. In terms of what the demonstration would achieve, Kastetter said, “I think just reaching out to individuals and everyone being really good at being a good person: hopefully forever. But, especially, in these next few days and weeks.”

Sophomore John-Henry Williams created a Facebook event late Tuesday night when the election results began to indicate a Trump victory. Williams said, “I just was like we’ve got to do something tomorrow. We can’t wake up tomorrow morning, knowing that there are people feeling this way all over campus, and not do anything about it. These people need to express, be with each other, and we can’t just go to class pretending everything is normal.” Word of the demonstration circulated quickly through Facebook and reached community members and Palmer High school students.

Quickly after students were released from class, signs were made and students, led by Williams, took to the microphone to speak to the crowd. Messages included ones of love and compassion and a call for peaceful demonstration.

The love and compassion that organizers broadcasted over microphones was welcomed by a visibly emotional and rattled crowd. For sophomore Emma Gonzalez the devastation of election night was replaced with a more uplifting sense of emotional support on Wednesday. “I was crying earlier because I felt so uncomfortable and out of body and terrified when I heard the news about Trump winning the election. And now I’m crying because we’re in the middle of this demonstration and surrounded by so much love and empowerment in this community,” said Gonzalez. Many students were in tears at the gathering and embracing one another prior to the group’s walk to Nevada Avenue.

CC student’s predominantly liberal views differ from the surrounding area. Republican ticket Trump/Pence received 55.51 percent of the vote in El Paso County. While, Clinton/Kaine received 33.27 percent of the vote within the county.

As the student body was attempting to process the election results, students of color were left with feelings of emptiness and fear for what sort of reality had descended upon Colorado Springs and the nation overnight. Mohammad Mia ‘16 said, “I think that people of color shouldn’t necessarily be surprised by the reality of what America is based upon as it is based upon a foundation of white supremacy that has up until this moment been the underlayer of America. This is a return to Jim Crow era style of racism.” Mia’s comments were echoed by senior Miles Cooper, “We might have seen the death of civility, dignity, and nuance last night.”

The student demonstration travelled downtown to Palmer High School, Acacia Park, and culminated at Colorado Springs City Hall. Along the route the demonstration was joined by students from Palmer High School who left the building to join the CC contingent. The demonstration disrupted downtown traffic and resulted in brief road closures.There was a heavy CSPD presence, in addition to Colorado College’s Campus Safety officers who followed participants throughout downtown. “It was interesting because the police want you to be safe, but what they really want is you to be convenient,” said Williams. “If we are in the middle of the street, a car is not going to hit us. It’s not going to run into a crowd of 200 kids. It’s just that we’re stopping traffic and ruining people’s days. But that’s what we want. I don’t want you to be comfortable in this moment, when I’m uncomfortable. That’s why blocking an intersection is powerful because it takes power away from that person in that car, and makes them feel as powerless as you did.” 

The demonstration and surrounded by so much love and empowerment in this community,” said Gonzalez. Many students were in tears at the gathering and embracing one another prior to the group’s walk to Nevada Avenue.

CC student’s predominantly liberal views differ from the surrounding area. Republican ticket Trump/Pence received 55.51 percent of the vote in El Paso County. While, Clinton/Kaine received 33.27 percent of the vote within the county.

First-year Doe Schall sits down at Acacia Park during Wednesday's "Make America Love Again" demonstration. Photo by Austin Halpern
First-year Doe Schall sits down at Acacia Park during Wednesday’s “Make America Love Again” demonstration. Photo by Austin Halpern

The demonstration drew some community members into the fold to discuss and interact with the students. Some of these community members were outspoken Trump supporters. Mike and Angelica, both Colorado Springs residents and Trump supporters, saw some of the impetus for the demonstration.

“They are protesting this because some of his messages they didn’t agree with. I see that this is probably 75 percent females and you know he was misogynistic. Hispanics are out here, probably because of the wall,” said Mike. The pair felt that Hillary couldn’t be trusted, as Mike said, “I just felt like I couldn’t trust Hillary. You gonna tamper with government stuff. I just feel like I can’t trust her.”

Stan Horton, also a Colorado Springs resident and Trump supporter, was none too pleased about the demonstration. “I am against this protest because they are a bunch of idiots that are protesting someone that just won the presidency when he already won it. There is nothing that they can do to change it. It doesn’t matter if everyone goes out and says this. They are not gonna impeach him.” Horton vehemently hated the Obama years and feels optimistic for four years of a Trump presidency. “We are grabbing America by the pussy. Let’s do it. What’s the compromise? He won.”

Initially, CSPD monitored the Trump/Pence supporters and their interactions with the demonstrators closely, anticipating an altercation. CC students approached Trump supporter Tyler Taylor and hugged him. This symbolic act embodied the purpose of the demonstration to fight hate and unite the community with love.

The first stop of the the demonstration was Palmer High School. Williams led the demonstration in chants in front of the School professing, “we love you.” Students peered out of classroom windows and eventually around twenty students joined the demonstration. “I know there is a gay kid sitting in a chair in there, or a minority child, or the son of an immigrant that doesn’t think they belong in this country right now, and that is terrifying. We need to tell them that they do matter, that they do have a place in this country,” said Williams.  

The demonstration was joined by Shawny Cameron, a student of color who attends Palmer High School. Cameron connected with the message of love and acceptance that the demonstration was professing. “Over the years I have been able to see a lot of self-love as well as equality and like promoting loving each other and stuff like that.” Cameron’s belief in self-love has grown with Trump’s election. “With this election, I just don’t want that to stop because when I was 12 I used to hate looking in mirrors because I hated the color of my skin and I don’t want any black girl, any Latino girl, any Pakistani girl to feel that way.”

The student demonstration headed back to campus after an emotional stop at the Colorado Springs City Hall. As the coming days, weeks, and months unfold Annika Kastetter and other campus leaders will look to lead the campus community in healing and community-building. “I think just making sure that people are able to come together and that there is an outlet to support each other and heal – so that’s something we are working on with different offices right now,” said Kastetter.

While Clinton voters do make up the majority of CC’s campus, there exists a Trump contingent as well. As the Catalyst experienced in calls for interviews, Trump supporters are unwilling to speak publicly on their political leanings. Kastetter hopes that CC can move past partisanship in creating a cohesive campus community.

“The problem is that things are feeling decisive. If we perpetuate this by shunning those individuals and ostracizing them for their beliefs. We are the problem. It’s the matter of saying, I might not respect your belief, but I respect your right to exercise them and vote for who you think might best represent you,” said Kastetter.

 

March 7: correction: In the first image, the caption should read “First-year Mekael Daniel” instead of “Junior Rachel Hyppolite.”

David Andrews

David Andrews

David began his time with the Catalyst in the Fall of 2014 as a first-year. After two blocks as a writer he became the Sports Editor and continued in this role for the spring and fall semester of 2015. Beginning in the spring semester of 2016 he took over as Editor in Chief of the newspaper. Andrews is majoring in English-Creative Writing-Poetry and loves the Catalyst.
Hannah Glosser

Hannah Glosser

Hannah Glosser is a senior Political Science major and Education minor. Hannah served as News Editor from March 2016 to December 2016.

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