Students Rally Against Donald Trump in the Diag

On Friday, Nov. 18, a crowd gathered in the center of the Diag on the University of Michigan campus with signs and fists raised in the air. In front of the crowd, a group of speakers promoted activism against the new president-elect Donald Trump, as well as delivered chants against Trump and discussed the how the country can prepare to fight against his policies.

This anti-Trump rally was put together by the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. The organization is run by University of Michigan students, and was founded by Liam Knight. It focuses on the current political landscape and takes action on current political issues. Instead of relying on outside organizations such as the University of Michigan, the SDS uses their own resources and members to organize events.

“We work with a focus on independent organization that is trying not to rely so much on outside sources, such as the school administration, and shifting the power over to the students,” Emily Levi said. Levi is a member of SDS and spoke at the rally.

The night of Election Day was a night of mourning for many Americans, as the reality of a Trump presidency dawned on them. The results hit members of the SDS hard as well; some members recounted how they started crying once the outcome registered.

“I was absolutely devastated, honestly,” Levi said. “As I said during my speech, I cried, because I knew there were so many people that were going to be hit hard by the results of this election and the next four years. And that’s kind of when I decided that I would help work as part of an organization such as SDS to change it.”

Members of SDS decided that they needed to take action. The members of SDS gathered soon after Election Day to discuss what they could do to support those who will be affected by the results of this election. Knight suggested planning a rally in the Diag to show support to those who need it.

Another goal of the rally was to inform people on how to fight Trump’s policies. Hadi Katbi, a member of SDS, believes that those against Trump need to use more unified tactics to influence Trump’s policies, rather than simply shouting anti-Trump slogans.

“Doable concrete goals are necessary… obviously in these first two weeks it’s important to create unity against Trump, but after these first two weeks, I think it’s important to have concrete action, rather than just chanting ‘not my president,’” Katbi says. “We get the point: the majority of Americans are against Trump. But in the end, that’s not going to accomplish anything. We need concrete action, and we need goals to tie into the action.”

This rally is only one of many. Across the nation, anti-Trump rallies and protests are occurring. Protests have been known to take place outside of Trump buildings in large cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. Ann Arbor has hosted a few rallies as well. According to the Michigan Daily, a vigil was held on the night after Election Day with over 1000 students and community members in attendance. Levi believes that these rallies are imperative to initiate change.

“I am fully in support of them,” Levi said. “I have seen them happen both here, right on campus in the same location, and all over, and that’s how change happens, even if you stand out in the middle of somewhere and voice your opposition to things, you will be heard.”

Sonny Newman, a member of SDS and a Community High alumni, clarifies why anti-Trump rallies are so important at the country’s current state.

“When you hear about these rallies, you hear about more and more people who are by your side fighting for you, and who are your allies, essentially, who are going through the same struggles that you’re going through,” Newman said. “And I’m really hoping that these rallies – even if people don’t go to them, even if they’re like ‘oh, they’ll be certain people here that I’m not comfortable with,’ even if people aren’t attending them – they’ll know that there are people who are with them, and who stand with them, and believe that they have a right to exist.”

Katbi agrees: “I think it’s important to form unity against Trump,” he said.

The call for unity against Trump is especially urgent when one considers the hate acts that have transpired since the election. Trump’s victory may have been surprising for some, but these recent events have shocked and alarmed the public. These acts are not limited to a few large cities. Just a few weeks ago, on Friday, Nov. 11, a woman just outside of the University of Michigan campus was threatened to be set on fire if she didn’t take off her hijab, which is a headscarf worn primarily by Muslims.

This hate act close to home was especially shocking due to Ann Arbor’s reputation as such an accepting and nondiscriminatory place. Many individuals think of Ann Arbor as being predominantly liberal. However, Ann Arbor is not as Democratic as people think. According to NPR, 26.4 percent of all citizens in Washtenaw County who voted cast their ballots for Donald Trump. Ann Arbor does not make up the whole county, but this number is still worth noting. Newman speculates that the assumption that Ann Arbor is completely Democratic is not as accurate as many previously thought.

“I think with this presidency we’re going to find that there are a lot more people harboring hate in their hearts and this presidency is going to make them think that it’s okay to express that hate,” Newman explained. “When you have a chief citizen of the United States, a president who is telling people it’s okay to be hateful, then everybody is obviously going to think that it’s okay to be hateful and it’s just not.”