About 400 to 500 students gathered in the University Union at Cal Poly and marched across campus Wednesday afternoon to protest the election of Donald Trump as president.
The group chanted and gave speeches on loudspeakers, shouting “F--- Trump,” “Not my president,” “Join our march, open your heart,” “Dump Trump, dump the wall” and “Join the fight.”
One student called Trump a rapist while speaking about her experience as a victim of sexual assault. Another said minorities will be afraid to live in America led by the Rebublican president-elect.
“It’s really not OK for someone to say it’s OK to grab a woman by the vagina without her permission,” the student said to a crowd that erupted in applause and chants of “Join the Fight.”
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The concentrated SLO community is a small reflection of what the election has been. ...People are frustrated with the results. The main point is we want our voices to be heard.
Tyler Saurez-Brown, Cal Poly protest organizer
According to a student organizer, the group was asked by Cal Poly officials to disperse for “safety reasons” about 3 p.m. The student said a rumor of a shooting threat was the reason, though university spokesman Matt Lazier later said no credible threat was found. Lazier also said “no imminent danger existed to warrant the dispersal of the gathering.”
“Earlier today Cal Poly University Police received a phone call from an individual who was concerned about a social media post made by a Cal Poly student,” Lazier said. “… UPD made contact with the student whose Facebook post was in question and determined that there was no credible threat.”
The group marched and protested near the Republican Free Speech Wall, a large piece of plywood recently erected on Dexter Lawn that contained anonymously scrawled messages of terrorist-themed Muslim caricatures and racially charged references to African-Americans, as well as sexist and transphobic notes. Other drawings and messages supported a tolerant, peaceful and accepting campus and society.
The sign was painted over in recent days with new writings.
“The concentrated SLO community is a small reflection of what the election has been,” protest organizer Tyler Saurez-Brown said. “… I think people are just fed up. People are fed up with the Hate Speech Wall, which was supposed to be the Free Speech Wall and turned into something way worse. People are frustrated with the administration. People are frustrated with the results. The main point is we want our voices to be heard.”
The people have voted, the people have spoken.
Unidentified Trump supporter at rally
Another student speaker said he has Muslim friends who are afraid to wear their hijabs and other Islamic clothing in fear of discrimination.
As the crowd assembled at Dexter Lawn, a Trump supporter started chanting in favor of Trump in the middle of the crowd, which drowned him out with chants of “Love Trumps Hate.”
At one point, the Trump supporter and some members of the crowd of protesters bumped and appeared ready to fight before tensions calmed and a few feet of physical distance was established.
Debate ensued, with protesters attempting to discuss political issues with the Trump supporter, who repeatedly expressed “the people have voted, the people have spoken.”
Another Trump supporter held up a banner stating “Trump: Make America Great Again.” His poster was snatched out of his hand, but he grabbed it back; student protesters tried to obscure his sign with messages of their own, such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Brown Lives Matter.”
Isaac Schick, a coordinator of the Cal Poly Against Donald Trump coalition, which has gained 200 members on Facebook, said his group’s goal is to motivate students to get more engaged and civic-minded, especially in coming elections.
“Democrats need to get more students registered,” Schick said. “Just because Hillary isn’t Bernie doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have gotten out to vote. We need people to get active.”
Lazier said the university supports students’ right to protest.
“The university strongly supports the right of its students to assemble peaceably and speak their minds freely, as several hundred did on campus this afternoon,” Lazier said. “Cal Poly students are some of the nation’s best and brightest, and we are pleased whenever they engage passionately in making their future brighter.”