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Buffalo protesters speak out against President-elect Donald Trump

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Adrianna Ragland stood on the monument in Niagara Circle and chanted to an audience of hundreds, “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA.”

Ragland, a graduate student in UB’s school of social work, wanted to stand up and take action against President-elect Donald Trump.

She was part of a protest that took place Sunday at the Niagara Circle where approximately 300 people gathered to voice their concern about Trump’s impending presidency. People of all ages held signs, played instruments and spoke in front of the crowd in unison. Those who spoke discussed racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights and immigration.

“There’s not a lot of action here, we need to make our voices heard,” Ragland said. “I voted for Hillary and she won the popular vote. I support immigrants, I’ve worked with immigrants and what Trump says is so full of hate.”

Anti-Trump protests of thousands of people have taken place in big cities and college campuses in the past five days. Some were peaceful while others were more violent, ending in smashed windows, dumpster fires and hundreds of police officers taking to the streets.

Ragland, like many other protestors, used Buffalo’s protest to motivate others to work and create a safe environment for all of the people Trump’s campaign belittled.

Alaysa Dale, a local resident, organized the protest. She made a Facebook event called “Humanity Over Oppression: A Peaceful Action.”

Dale didn’t expect more than 50 people to show up.

“I am not an organizer, I am not a leader,” Dale said. “It’s just that easy to bring people together.”

Local attorney Mary Balthasar-Lake handed out safety pins to promote the idea of safety and community. These pins represent a commitment to sticking up for those who have been harassed and to be a “safe person.”

Balthasar-Lake worked in voter protection during the election and was stationed in places such as Florida, where voting was a liable concern.

“It appeared to me I need to use my law degree to do something about this movement,” Balthasar-Lake said. “Its important people woke up on Wednesday feeling scared.”

Olivia Russell, a Buffalo resident, said she thinks Trump spreads fear and hate.

“For any society to grow, we need to embrace each other and support each other and to support a man who uses fear to win votes is just, I can’t not do anything,” Russell said.

Russell, like many others who attended the rally, is concerned about the changes that will come with a Trump presidency. She has faith in the system and hopes Congress and the Supreme Court will balance him out.

“I want him to know that we’re going to keep him in check, to know like, you work for us now, you respond to America,” Russell said.

Protestors held signs that said, “Hate won’t make America ‘great’,” “Love trumps hate,” and “We’re all in this together.” A couple women wrote words on their bodies and went topless while others held gay pride flags.

Charles Lyons, a Buffalo teacher for 44 years, attended the rally. He said he would rather the presidency be based on the popular vote than the Electoral College.

“I’m afraid most of what [Trump is] going to do to the immigrant population,” Lyons said. “Most of them come for freedom and for a place to work and we have raised a culture with our welfare system that aren’t working, but immigrants come here to work and to enjoy freedom which we take for granted.”

When Lyons heard the news of the election, he said he felt scared and didn’t want to go into work. Lyons said that he can’t believe the acts which have occurred since Trump’s election, including the black baby doll hung in an elevator at Canisius College.

“I can’t believe these collegiate people would be so heartless, so uneducated,” Lyons said.

Lyons came to the rally to express his emotions about the change in leadership.

“I’m here to relieve my own anxiety, to do something, to say something, rather than sit at home or in a bar and just discuss these problems, come with other people who are of like-minded thoughts and feelings,” Lyons said.

Others who attended the rally were more focused on the positive message than the anti-Trump chanting.

A.C. LaFlore, a second year graduate student, said he attended the rally because he stands in solidarity with others.

“I’m here in solidarity with everyone who might face discrimination from our President elect: Hispanics – I’m also Hispanic and half-black – African Americans, Muslims, women, the LGBTQ community and I’m just excited to see all the support and solidarity to let everyone know again, we’re here for each other,” LaFlore said.

LaFlore said he felt “defeated” and “very heavy” when he found out Trump had been elected.

He said he hopes events like this rally will show the government and other citizens that support for equal rights is widely held.

“Hopefully they’ll see this support that we have for each other and know that it’s all love,” LaFlore said.

The rally served as a safe space for discontent people to protest Trump and find support in the community.

Buffalo resident Molly Worth said Trump’s Republican affiliation doesn’t alarm her – it’s the man himself and his ideology.

“I’m a Christian, I’m a Democrat and I don’t necessarily align with any candidate 100 percent, but I’ve seen the way this election turns people against one another and it’s deeply troubling,” Worth said. “It’s been perpetuated by a man who’s supposed to be the leader of our country and that’s just not right to me.”

Worth said Trump’s words have “incited violence” and that she dislikes other rhetoric used throughout the campaign.

All of those who attended the rally – children, college students, elderly – were bundled up, prepared to stay out for the day and continue to protest.

Tori Roseman is the managing editor and can be reached at tori.roseman@ubspectrum.com

Sarah Crowley is the assistant news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com


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