Protesters march from Alamo Friday
By Michelle Delgado
Hundreds of people — including students and a former adviser from the Alamo Colleges — gathered this weekend downtown for two events that protested the victory of president-elect Donald J. Trump.
Many arrived early on Friday night for a 9 p.m. protest in front of the Alamo, holding signs, banners and flags.
Eddie Luera, 42, carried a sign that read “Apocalypse now, Trump is the Antichrist.”
“I really feel like the end is coming because of this guy,” Luera said of Trump. “A president who hates other people shouldn’t be a president. They should be a dictator, which is probably what it’s going to lead to.”
Many protesters are fearful of what the next four years has to offer.
“I need to be with my community to feel less despair and anxiety over things that I fear for this country,” said teacher Carrie Doan, 40. “I’m worried for my Hispanic, Muslim and LGBTQ friends. I haven’t stopped crying.”
Although there were many anti-Trump advocates, a few people were there to show support for the new president-elect.
“We have as much right to be out here as they do,” said software developer Ron Young, 45. “I’ve always been a conservative. The reason I like Trump is because I believe he can be held accountable by the people. I think Hillary is somebody who answers to nobody but herself.”
Young was armed with a gun at his hip; some protesters such as Doan said she felt as though he was trying to be intimidating.
Young said that was not the case: He carries his gun all the time.
“We got our open carry law in Texas passed last January,” he said. “We literally open carry anywhere we go, so me carrying here tonight has nothing to do with these people here either because I exercise my right to open carry.”
Just minutes before 9 p.m., the group headed toward East Houston Street and down the River Walk. Women chanted “my body, my choice,” followed by men chanting “her body, her choice.”
Passersby watched as the long line of protesters marched and shouted. Some clapped or shot a thumbs-up. Others observed and said they were confused about what the group was trying to convey.
“I guess it all comes down to the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19,” said Bernard Lavallee, a student at this college who will transfer to UTSA to study public administration in the spring.
During the protest people in red “peace keeper” shirts made sure everything ran smoothly.
“I’m kind of here to take the first punch,” said Erick Willing, 42. “I’m here to make sure that stupid people remain stupid, and smart people who may do a stupid thing may not do it and we can all go home at the end of the night feeling like we did the right thing.”
Before the march, while the crowd was beginning to chant “not my president,” a woman who looked to be in her 40s passed by with her husband shouting “Trump!” She began swinging her arms toward the protesters. Willing stepped in to keep the woman away.
Many protesters were more disappointed in the American people than the new president-elect.
“It’s not the fact that Trump won,” said UTSA student Joseph, 21. “It’s the fact that the majority of Americans rallied behind that platform that he used. It’s a sexist country; it’s a racist country. That’s the most shocking part.”
San Antonio Police Department officers used their cars to block traffic as the protesters marched through the
streets of downtown. Some drivers honked their car horns in support while others shouted discouraging words.
In reaction to some of the discouraging passersby, many protesters offered hugs and words of love.
Some participants brought their children or young relatives.
“They are everything that I care about; they are my world,” Natalia Rodriguez said of her two young nieces who held signs. “If I let them grow up in a society that is full of fear and oppression and bigotry, then what am I doing as someone who is supposed to be their guide?
“They chose to come, I didn’t make them do anything, they made their own signs, they’re excited about the movement and they disagree with everything that is going on right now in our nation; they’re scared; they have other children in their classrooms instilling fear in other children, and they see it’s not fair and they see that they have a voice,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez’s niece, 13-year-old Alyanna Fuentes, said she was there to support the LGBTQ community.
“I really don’t think it’s fair the message Trump is promoting because before we are Americans, we are humans,” Fuentes said.
This was the first time Northwest Vista political science sophomore Tony Luna led a protest. More than 500 people showed up to Friday night’s protest, he said. He shouted reminders of keeping the peace into a megaphone throughout the protest.
“I feel like it was my civil duty,” he said after the march around downtown San Antonio. “Peace and love is what makes a human valuable,” he said of the event he helped lead. “Don’t let hate win, keep loving your family and keep loving your friends.”
Saturday protest includes stricter safety precautions
Friday night ended on a peaceful note, and some were looking forward to another evening of protesting the following day.
Saturday’s protest met at 6:30 p.m. in front of City Hall. The crowd eventually swelled to over 750 people.
One of the first protesters to arrive was 84-year-old Madeline Lester, a former adviser at this college.
“The election was rigged on his side,” Lester said of Trump.
She said the media gave all the attention to him from the beginning.
“They didn’t give the same coverage to Hillary,” Lester said.
Many participants noticed the diverse age groups among protesters.
“I was glad to see people of all ages here,” said UTSA women’s studies student Amanda Hernandez, 27. “That just completely wipes out the argument that ‘oh, it’s people who don’t have jobs, it’s people who are young and entitled,’ Why does basic human rights have to fall under entitlement?” she said.
Hernandez suggested everyone continue their activism after the protest.
“All this anger we feel right now, we need to use it,” she said. “Anger has a use, and I think if we keep using it in constructive ways, we can make the changes we’ve been hoping to see.”
One protester passed out about 20 homemade neon cardstock butterflies attached to wood that she and her mothers made for the event.
“My moms and I made these to symbolize migration and just how natural it is,” said Klarissa Gonzalez, 17, Young Women’s Leadership Academy student.
The crowd started walking around downtown and down Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard toward the Tower of the Americas.
Many people on social media have questioned the idea of protesting when the election is over.
“Protesting is about making sure your voice is heard,” said volunteer Kevin Larz, 28.
While the parade shouted “Not my president!” Sand Nieto, Somerset High School coach, walked with a welcome home hero’s flag from Iraq.
“I’m in total shock and disbelief that our supposed elected president is such a racist person,” said Nieto, 50. “That just tells me that every person who voted for him is racist; I can’t believe that we still live in a world like that. I thought we were going forward not backward.”
The safety precautions of Saturday’s protest were different from Friday’s because everyone was required to stay on the sidewalk instead of the streets.
SAPD officers used patrol bikes to keep people from entering the roads, saying that safety is the No. 1 priority.
“All it takes is for someone to trip into the road,” officer Johnson of SAPD said.
One participant expressed concern for the way the officers handled the march.
“The police officers are instigating,” said teacher Maria, 25. “They’re shoving us with the bikes and telling us we have to be on the sidewalk.”
One woman brought her three young children who were chanting and marching with the others.
“My parents are from Mexico, so we’re against deportation,” said accountant Ericka Garcia, 31. “They’ve been following it through the entire campaign,” she said of her children.
“I thought Hillary was going to win, but then I found out that Trump won so I wanted to come,” Garcia’s 11-year-old daughter, Alyssa Cruz, said.
The protest landed at Hemisfair Park where chants such as “this is what democracy looks like” could be heard.
The protest continued with a walk to the Alamo and more chanting, then ended after arriving back at City Hall.
One statement on many signs of the protesters read “love trumps hate.”
“That means that love wins over hate,” said social worker Jennifer Carrera, 48. “He’s not my president.”