[Please see more pictures and video posted on the Progressive Action NH facebook page!]
Last night in Manchester just before dusk, around 4pm people starting gathering at City Hall based on a call to action on Facebook regarding Trump’s recently declared win of the presidency. The event started at 4pm and lasted until between 8 and 8:30.
Organized by MC Auger, an 18 year old college student at NHTI and a few of her friends, the event grew way beyond what they had imagined, ” I was one of the ones who initially created it. I just kind of decided that something needed to be done and I just put something up on Facebook and I invited a couple of my friends and I never expected in a million years that it would get half of the traction that it did.
“It was amazing and it really kind of restored my faith in humanity and basically the whole community came together and basically even the opposition came together and it showed that we can get our message across without violence.”
When asked if she’d been involved in politics before, “Well my entire family is made up of people who are Republicans and heavily support Donald Trump and I was frustrated with the results of the election, I guess I felt I had to do something about it in order to feel better.
“I was raised in Catholic school for all of my life and I gradually didn’t like what I was hearing both in school and at home and decided to do my research and found out that there’s more than one way to tackle an issue.
“In the past I was very involved in politics because my parents would take me to big campaign rallies and bring me along to meet candidates or something. But I’ve never done anything like this before. I definitely think I’m going to get more involved in politics than I already am, probably I would do something like this again, most likely before Donald Trump is inaugurated.”
Danny Keating, organizer for Socialist Alternative and one of the marshals for the event said that although there was no real trouble, there were some tense moments, “The event started out with people on both sides of the street [Elm Street] chanting with each other. When we marched down to Veteran’s Park and then came back most of the people went to the other [City Hall] side. I tried to get everyone over to that side of the street. There were some counter-protesters, one with Nazi symbol neck tattoos on the other side still with about a hundred or so protesters.
“Some of the protesters started to gather around the four or five or so counter-protesters and they argued with them and chanted at them. Me and about four other marshals came over and stood between the two groups and then gradually most of the people moved to the other side of the street. We stayed over there and formed a mini-circle around the counter-protesters for about a half hour.
“Then again a Trump supporter came over to the other side [City Hall side] and started trying to argue with the people and a cop came up and basically said to him, ‘Ok you had your say, move on.’ and he moved on. That was about it.”
Danny said he got involved on his own, “I saw the event page and saw a lot of threatening on that page, I didn’t know the two young woman that were organizing it but I said, ‘Hey you guys should have some marshals for protection.’ and at first they said, No we’ll be fine’ but then some people who had done events in Manchester before, like the Black Lives Matter folks said, ‘No, we’d like them to be there.’
I asked Danny to explain what a marshal does, “Essentially its security and de-escalation; you are protecting the crowd. Our focus is to look all around the rally and find potential threats; we form a barrier between the two. Most people go along and it works out very well.”
Another marshal, Julizabeth Gonzalez said what struck her most about the night “For me it was people coming up and saying ‘How dare you think its ok to get an abortion.” They were just saying stuff that didn’t make any sense and the people I was with were just women drinking coffee and weren’t saying anything, it was ridiculous. Everyone else though was really friendly, a lot of support and a lot of love.”
As for what spurned Gonzalez to get involved, “For me because I’m Spanish and I’m part of the LBGTQ community, for everything after the election because I have felt really uncomfortable and we don’t feel very safe and welcome anymore, so it was nice to be out yesterday and be out there and be embraced by the community and people letting you know you are going to be ok.
“I feel that since the election people have been more rude to me, staring at me making comments right to me, saying like, “Are you legal?” I always give them a look and say ‘Pretty much, I came from Massachusetts; I didn’t need a green card.
“I know that a lot of the counter-protesters are missing the whole fact, its about also what the election stands for after the fact. I did think it was hilarious that there was only a handful of counter-protesters and they were so angry and I wanted to walk over to them and tell them that’s how it feels to be minority in this country, but they didn’t see it like that, but its funny because that must have been how they were feeling, but they didn’t see it like that.
“We also had safety pins, it started in the UK, it was started to signify you are safe around this person, if you are refugee, or gay, or feeling harassed, those people are safe to be around. One of the marshals had a bunch of safety pins and was handing them out to people who agreed to be ‘safe people’.”
Olivia Rose, 19 worked with the organizers during the planning stages, “I’m not one of the creators [of the event] but I helped with organizing things such as police being there and like part of leading the chants and stuff and making sure that everything and everyone was safe.
I really like protesting. I’ve been to two Black Lives Matters protests before here in Manchester. I work at a grocery store part-time and I work at Old Navy part-time as holiday help. I’m saving up money for that and school and everything costs so much money. Wow, nobody told me it would be like this. I really want to go to school for special effects and theater.
Asked what got her to get involved, “Well Trump, so I was watching his campaign and he just seems have a lot of hate and when I saw him talking about conversion therapy it just hit a nerve and I don’t want a country filled with hate. I feel like we’re not all together and I feel like it should be.”
As the actual vote counts continued to roll in long after the mainstream media had declared Trump the winner and Clinton had made her official concession speech, it appeared that Clinton did in fact dominate the popular vote by a small margin. Considering the divisive nature of Trump’s positions and campaign that was enough for many people to hit the streets and demand that the electoral college switch their pro-Trump positions and put in a vote for the candidate that actually won the popular vote.
Willow Pfahler, another protest participant came to the rally with the distinct goal of being seen by the electoral college voters in NH and elsewhere so that possibly they’d change their vote. “I participated in the protest to draw attention to the electoral college has a constitutional obligation to step in and right this. The electoral college was originally put in place to give the slave owners the majority vote, but part of the reason as well was to step in and do what’s right.
“To give you an example; there’s the ‘faithless vote’ which is when somebody votes against their pledge, there’s a woman in DC that did not vote at all in 2000, she was protesting the voter discrimination in DC, Barbara Lett-Simmons. There’s some folks in the electoral college that already pledged not to vote for their pledged candidate. There’s a many in Texas who has said he will be a ‘faithless voter’ because of Trump’s stance on immigration.
“Many Republicans are saying that electoral college voters cannot change their vote, but its unconstitutional to be prevented from changing their votes, although throughout history there’s never been any prosecution of faceless voters.
“Additionally I think that people need to understand that this isn’t something that doesn’t happen. Even up to 2015 there’s been an estimated 157 instances of faceless voters through the history of the country. This is what the American people want, this is the idea; the electoral college has an obligation to look at the public voting and see who the American people want and the vote says they want Clinton over Trump.
“Historically, if you look at the facts that she’s receiving a historic number of votes for her, additionally we’re seeing a historic voter decrease and we also, Clinton didn’t win the black vote and didn’t win the Hispanic vote, well consider all the factors I just said, consider the increase in voter suppression relating to Trump’s campaign, consider the number of polling places closed, consider the changes in voter ID laws; it all adds up.
“Right now the electoral college petition on Change.org has 4.3 millions signatures, a petition asking the electoral college to change its mind. Even Fox News did a good article on the issue and outlined the process, especially that regardless of state law, they have to follow the constitution.
“People need to think of why the gap between the election night and the time of the inauguration, it isn’t just what about counting the last of the votes, its about giving the electoral college the chance to look at all the information and make an informed decision.”