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Protesting the president-elect

My experience protesting the election result at Trump Tower in New York City


/ The Spectrum The Spectrum

When I finally gathered enough emotional strength to watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, I sobbed the whole way through.

One line in particular resonated with me: “Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” I wrote that sentence in my journal over and over again and hung the page above my desk.

Even though the unimaginable had happened, I refused to accept defeat. I refused to let Clinton down. In that moment, I promised myself that no matter how hopeless things may seem over the next four years, I wouldn’t ever stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.

I woke up on Nov. 8, 2016 with a smile on my face because I believed I would be celebrating the election of the first woman president that evening.

When the election results started rolling in declaring Donald Trump the winner of state after state, it didn’t feel real.

I didn’t think a hateful, offensive man could actually become our president.

This man is endorsed by the KKK, has been accused of sexual assault multiple times, believes he has the right to touch women inappropriately, referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists, proposed a ban on Muslims, mocked a disabled reporter and insulted our veterans. This man also selected a running-mate who signed a bill to jail same-sex couples seeking a marriage license and diverted funding from HIV treatment to gay conversion therapy, which is a pseudoscientific and abusive practice that is discredited by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association.

As a woman, bisexual person and survivor of sexual assault, as well as an ally to racial and religious minorities, I am absolutely disgusted that these men now hold the highest elected offices in our country.

When the race was officially called in Mr. Trump’s favor, I fled from my dorm so as not to disturb my sleeping roommate and bolted to the stairwell so I could finally let myself cry. I called my mother and I asked her how this could happen.

She didn’t have an answer.

I remember lying on the floor of the stairwell at 3 a.m., hot tears pouring down my cheeks, feeling like this must be some sort of horrible nightmare.

I spent the next day in a fog, unable to process what was happening in the world. It wasn’t until I heard news of protests happening across the country that I felt a glimmer of something resembling hope for the first time in twenty-four hours.

I spent Nov. 9 feeling like my country had turned its back on me and the people I care about. It was tremendously comforting to see people using their First Amendment right to protest this egregious injustice.

Newly empowered by Clinton’s inspirational words, I knew it was time to take action. I saw my friend from Manhattan had RSVP’d to a Facebook event for a protest at Trump Tower that Saturday and without so much as a second thought, I immediately purchased a train ticket to New York City.

Clad in my Planned Parenthood t-shirt, clasping a rainbow flag and armed with a sign featuring my newfound favorite quote from Clinton, I was ready to stand up and fight back.

As I marched down Fifth Avenue in pursuit of Trump Tower, the crowd grew larger and larger by the second. I got goose bumps as I realized I was a part of history in the making.

A lyric from my favorite musical, Hamilton, popped into my head: “History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world.”

I thought about how appalled Alexander Hamilton would be to see Donald Trump elected to the presidency and how he would be the one exuberantly leading the protests were he still alive today.

I felt tears in my eyes as protestors chanted, “This is what democracy looks like.” For the first time in what already felt like ages, I felt some pride in my country as well as gratitude that I have the right to stand up for what I believe in without fear of persecution.

The protest was incredibly peaceful and there was such a strong sense of solidarity and compassion mingled with feelings of power, strength and resistance. Standing in that crowd of 15,000 people, I felt slightly less afraid to face these next four years, because now I know with certainty that I’m not alone in my vision of a diverse and accepting America.

Because now I can see that we won’t let our rights be taken away quietly. We’ll be there to stand up against injustice at every turn.

And we will never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.

Maddy Fowler is a news staff writer and can be reached at mmfowler@buffalo.edu


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