At DTLA Trump Protest, the Message Is Clear: 'This Is the New America'
A crowd in the thousands marched from MacArthur Park through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to protest the election of Donald Trump. Underlying the social causes championed on signs and banners, and in chants by dozens of marchers, was the protesters' promise to unify against the attacks they anticipate once Trump assumes office.
Trump's opponents have been taking to the streets in cities across the country, bracing for initiatives like a nationwide stop-and-frisk program, mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, a national database of Muslim-Americans, a ban on Muslims immigrants, restriction of abortion rights, and the repeal of laws protecting gays and transgender people from discrimination.
On Wednesday, large crowds filled the streets around downtown Los Angeles and assembled in front of City Hall, and several hundred ultimately marched onto the 101 freeway, shutting it down for several hours.
The march on Saturday was larger in number of protesters, and more family-friendly. Los Angeles police closed the marching route to vehicle traffic and maintained a steady presence at various points along the procession. A Los Angeles police helicopter hovered in the sky along the marching route for much of the day.
“We need to raise our voices now, so he doesn’t feel confident and is willing to govern in the interest of all,” said Cecilia Argueta, a permanent U.S. resident from El Salvador, whose 9-year-old daughter, Rocío, was marching alongside her. “We’re worried about what could happen.”
Jessica Kimball, 30, a graduate student at UCLA, held aloft the rainbow flag in the middle of a dense crowd of marchers at Beaudry and Wilshire. “United we stand, divided we fall,” Kimball said. Nearby, a woman pushed past a baby stroller with the placard taped on the back, “Queer family for Muslims and immigrants.”
Two women held up an American flag with rainbow stripes at Wilshire and Alvarado. Behind them, men and women in native outfits and feathered headdress performed a choreographed dance to live drumming.
A man with a shaved head drifted beside the march from behind the wheel of an old yellow Ford pickup. “He won. Get over it,” he shouted at one protester. “Go to Korea.”
Trump’s views on immigration and the immediate threat they pose to the untold hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles were a prominent theme throughout the day.
Maria Guadalupe Martinez, 56, stood on a bench on Wilshire and waved a homemade banner of Mexico’s flag on one side stitched together with America’s flag on the other. Martinez was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and is a U.S. citizen living in Ontario. “Mexico is where I come from, America is where I live,” she said. “I’m a part of both, and both are a part of me.”
Brittany Gutierrez, 12, attended the march with her mother, Elizabeth Sandoval, one of 200,000 immigrants protected under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program President-elect Trump vows to eliminate immediately after taking office.
“I think it means he’s going to be able to destroy families,” Gutierrez said.
Sandoval, 35, a special education instructor from La Puente and a student at L.A. Community College, was marching with a sign that said, “Undocumented lives matter.” “I work hard for my kids, and if Donald Trump decides to scrap DACA, we’ll be doomed,” she said.
Tourists snapped photos from the open top of a tour bus parked in front of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. A contingent of women marchers filed past, chanting “My body, my choice.”
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Taylor May, 20, a student at Chapman University, held up a homemade sign that said, “Pussy grabs back.”
At the overpass on Wilshire Boulevard, dozens of motorists in slow-moving traffic honked their car horns in agreement with the protesters displaying signs from above. One of the protesters was Jake Bessi, 25, an actor from Tarzana, who held a sign that said “Defy the Donald” and “Tiny Hands Can’t Build Walls.”
“I’m not ready to accept President-elect Donald Trump,” Bessi said. “I don’t agree with him on social issues. He’s unqualified. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. So I’m exercising my right to scream and yell and protest peacefully.”
Hundreds of marchers made the walls of the Third Street tunnel reverberate with the chant of “Black lives matter.” Alicia Estrada, 30, of Santa Clarita, started the chant and was quick to qualify its message.
“I support every life, this is about everyone — blacks, Latinos, every minority that has been hurt or affected by Donald Trump,” Estrada said. “I think everyone is coming together and letting the system know we’re not okay with this.”
The march concluded in the area of East Temple and North Los Angeles streets. In the home stretch, as marchers turned onto Temple, they were met by lines of protesters holding up signs on either side of the street — “Not My President,” “Queers without Fears,” “Idiot-Tested, KKK-Approved.”
Thousands of protesters congregated in the three block-area on East Temple from Alameda to Main streets. Hundreds more gathered on the elevated pedestrian bridge over Temple Street, for a bird’s-eye view of thousands of protesters stretching for blocks down East Temple.
“This is the new America,” said a rally speaker from the Brown Berets in East L.A. The rally platform was decorated with flags from around the world.
Caitlin Towne, 28, an engineering and computer science teacher at Joe Baca Middle School in San Bernadino, left home at 7 a.m. to attend the march. Towne said that the student body at her school is a majority Latin American, and that a lot of her students have told her they’re scared and worried about having to go back to Mexico.
“I’ve tried to explain to them that not everyone feels the way our president-elect does and that we’ll do everything we can as teachers to show them love and respect,” Towne said.
Robby Herbst, 43, of Westlake was pushing his bike with a placard taped to the child’s seat on the back that said “No one is illegal.” Herbst was attending the march with his wife, Kimberly Varelle, 45, and their daughter Juniper, 7. Juniper had painted a sign for the occasion that said, “Trump is not good for the environment.”
“We’re here because we’re fighting for the future,” Herbst said. “Everyone here is looking to the future. Trump is part of the past.”
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