America has had a history of protests: from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. Today, another set of protests has gained much media attention: the protests against the election of President-elect Donald Trump. After the election, thousands of people gathered in major cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Chicago to voice their opinions against the new President-elect.
The current protests are simply the exercise of freedom of speech and assembly. Yet these protestors were routinely called “babies” and “whiners” and told to get over it. The opposition to the current protests is appalling. A person’s ability to voice his or her opinion serves as the foundation of the First Amendment, one of the the fundamental aspects of the very democracy that Trump supporters and other anti-protesters claim the protests challenge.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the government cannot prevent the exercise of your right to protest as long as you do not cause any serious disruption. Otherwise, the government can intervene and end the protest. The ACLU says, “As long as your words don’t directly incite violence or lawbreaking, you cannot be held responsible for the way that counter demonstrators or your own supporters react.”
Protests promote the benefit of the common good. This election was marked by a surge in racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and many other forms of xenophobia. Especially after a candidate who bragged about sexual assault, pushed black tenants out of his estates, and was endorsed by the KKK won the election, people are scared, and protesting allows them to voice their fears.
Protests validate the opinions and the existence of groups threatened by a surge in hate crimes and other forms of bigotry. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 cases of hate crimes in the 10 days after the election.
Even in the so-called “liberal bubble” of California, five mosques received letters from a white nationalist group calling itself “Americans for a Better Way” that referred to Muslims as “Children of Satan” and stated, “[Donald Trump is] going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you Muslims. He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.”
And these are only a few of the many cases of crimes against Muslim people, Jewish people, LGBTQ+ people and many more communities. Protests comfort those targeted by these hate crimes. Those who protest this election are not trying to end democracy but instead want to gain the respect they deserve.
Protester Emmanuel Perez told the New York Times, “I came here because people came out to protest the racism that he’s promoting. I’m not scared for myself personally. What I’m worried about is how many children are going to be separated from their families. It will not be just one. It will be thousands of families.”
Protesters want to make their issues with the election public through their protests. Their voices were not heard before and during the election because of America’s focus on the candidates rather than the people who would be affected by the results of this election.
By demonstrating in the streets of major cities, protesters have gained media attention and are now able to make their causes widely acknowledged rather than ignored. The same ideology behind this fueled the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
The protesters during the Civil Rights Movement wanted to make the injustices they faced known by sitting at white segregated lunch counters, organizing marches, and performing other acts of civil disobedience. These protests gave the oppressed a platform through the increased media attention, which attracted legislators who created laws against segregation and other forms of injustice against colored people and women.
More recently, the #NoDAPL protests caused the U.S. Army to interfere with the Standing Rock protests and prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from running through the Lakota Nation’s territory.
Presidential protesters are trying to accomplish the same goal: to attract the attention of the media, possibly effect change in Trump’s policies and the ideologies of certain legislators and ensure the protection of their rights in public policy.
People should be allowed to voice their fears and their opinions about the election. They are simply trying to protect their rights because they feel threatened by an unsettling result. It is a right guaranteed to them, and we cannot take away that right just because someone may not agree.