They held up signs saying “Dump Trump” and “Brown, Proud and Terrified,” and chanted slogans like “Immigrants are welcome here” and “Not my president.” Cars honked in show of support and drivers leaned out of their windows to give the people passing by high fives as they made their way down Figueroa Street toward USC.
The group of about 200 protesters passed by campus Saturday afternoon after splintering off from a larger gathering that marched from MacArthur Park to the Federal Building. According to the Los Angeles Times, as many as 8,000 demonstrators filled the streets downtown in the largest protest to take place in Los Angeles since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency last Tuesday. Protests there were mostly peaceful, with no arrests made on Saturday, though some freeway ramps were blocked, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The splinter group followed Figueroa Street toward campus and briefly staged a sit-down at the intersection of Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard. Los Angeles Police Department officers redirected traffic and formed a motorcade ahead of the protesters, warning cars ahead that they were coming. The group went as far south as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, where several dozen people kneeled in remembrance of the civil rights leader and chanted “Black Lives Matter,” before turning on Vermont Avenue and heading back toward Downtown.
The demonstrators included a number of USC students, some of whom started at the very beginning in MacArthur Park and others who joined the crowd as it passed by campus. William Yelton, a senior majoring in film and television production, said that he came because he wanted to send a message not just to Trump, but to a Republican-dominated Congress, that the people did not support the divisive rhetoric the President-elect employed against women, people of color, immigrants and LGBT people.
“I acknowledge that Donald Trump is our president — I don’t think any of this is going to stop that,” Yelton said. “But without checks and balances in our government, we’re here to say, ‘No, you can’t just do whatever you want.’ We’ve made a lot of progress, and we’re not going to turn back the clock.”
Noha Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in law, history and culture, said the protests were a reminder to the president-elect that the plans he has announced — such as deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants from the United States or repealing the Affordable Care Act — will not be tolerated.
“Thirty years from now when we look back at 2016, I want to be able to say that I was doing something and not just lying around my apartment, business as usual, because it’s not,” Ayoub said. “There’s something so fundamentally abnormal and wrong about this year’s election that cannot be ignored. I think my anger manifested in the sense that I wanted to be part of the solution and not just a bystander.”
The protests in Los Angeles are part of a national wave of discontent that has emerged in the wake of Tuesday’s election result, with people taking to the streets in New York City, Portland, Oregon; and Cincinnati, Ohio. While violence erupted when a man was shot during a march in Portland, Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the demonstrators’ peaceful protest in Los Angeles and supported their right to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“I know the headlines are always the few people who jump onto a freeway or two or three people who spray paint something,” Garcetti said in an interview on CNN. “We’ll always deal with lawless behavior. The main story is that Americans, not just in my city but around the country, are saying we want to continue to embrace people regardless of how they worship God, who they love, where they live or even immigration status.”