The anti-Trump whiplash sweeping the nation hit San Antonio’s streets Saturday as hundreds of protesters marched through the downtown area chanting “Not my president,” and “Love trumps hate.”
Demonstrators remained peaceful and cooperated with the heavy police presence as lines of cars blocked by the commotion honked in support.
“We’re protesting the hateful words and intolerance that have been happening in the United States and that are going to be happening throughout the next four years,” said Valerie Campos, a spokesperson for the rally. “We’re trying to show that love can conquer that hate.”
A number of signs and chants took a similar tone, emphasizing tolerance and solidarity with Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQIA community, and other groups protesters believe have been targeted by Trump’s language, behavior, and agenda. Other demonstrators spoke more antagonistically, shouting expletives and labelling Trump supporters as white supremacists.
“Emboldened by the rhetoric that politicians and leaders like Trump and Pence spew forth, these misguided people have begun to act upon their hatred, their ignorance, and their bigotry without shame or consequence,” Polly Anna Rocha, who identifies as a queer, transgender woman of color, told the crowd outside City Hall.
According to the Washington Post, President-elect Donald Trump performed better among blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans than 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and worse among whites. Some analysts believe that many overlooked his racially-charged rhetoric in favor of his anti-establishment platform.
Still, women and minorities voted heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote despite losing in the electoral college by 62 votes.
“A lot of people want us to just accept it and move on,” said organizer Marissa Gonzalez. “But when we accept that a racist, bigoted, xenophobic president has entered our office, then we’re just letting it happen. We’re lending to that racism and bigotry.”
The rally came on the heels of demonstrations sweeping dozens of U.S. cities, which began on Tuesday night even before the announcement of Clinton’s concession. While in New York City peaceful protesters surrounded Trump Tower, the scene in Portland, Oregon turned violent, as protesters hurled rocks at police and vandalized local businesses.
On Thursday evening, Trump, who decried the election as rigged for much of his campaign, tweeted, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
The next day he added, “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
While issues around race and gender took center stage, a number of protesters echoed rhetoric from rallies against the Dakota Access Pipeline, fearful that Trump could dismantle environmental controls and withdraw the U.S. from international climate agreements.
“My concern is all the environmental regulations are going to go away,” said John Snodgrass, a professor of environmental science at Northwest Vista. “… I’m afraid that he’s going to shut down the EPA.”
Recognizing San Antonio’s sizable undocumented immigrant population, protesters of various races and ethnicities voiced concerns over what Trump’s unprecedented deportation plan could do to families in the city.
“(Wednesday) was one of my hardest days as an educator ever because just the moment kids walked into school, they were crying, they were scared, they had a lot of questions,” Caitlin McCloskey, a teacher on the Southside, told the Rivard Report. “As a teacher with an inclusive classroom, we spent the day in a restorative circle, talking about how this happened, how kids felt, and so that they had a safe space to feel like they were heard.”
Beginning and ending at City Hall, the march progressed down South Santa Rosa Avenue, along East César E Chavez Boulevard toward Hemisfair Park, and northward to the Alamo.
As for the meaning of chants like “Dump Donald Trump” and “Not my president,” participants said Trump’s divisive language make them fear he’s not a president for all Americans.
“When I say ‘Not my president,’ I mean he doesn’t represent me, he doesn’t represent American values, and he’s not fit to be president,” Sarah Donaldson said.
Pointing to initial fears among Democrats that Trump would not concede to a Clinton win, some critics have accused demonstrators of hypocrisy. Several protesters, however, emphasized that the rally was against Trump’s speech and policies, not the legitimacy of his presidency.
“We can’t change the result at this point, but what we’re saying is we don’t accept the hate that he has been spewing throughout the nation,” Campos said. “…We are willing to work with him. Of course I can’t speak for a lot of people here. There are a lot of people from around San Antonio who have different ideologies.”
“How would I feel if people were out here protesting Hillary Clinton if she had won, which they are welcome to do?” Barbara Tavares reflected. “But I think it goes beyond that because he is spreading messages of hate and exclusionary measures, and now he’s (been) given a license to racism. I don’t want the entire world to think all Americans are like that.”