LA Trump Protests Highlight Youth Divide

By MATT REYNOLDS

trump-2LOS ANGELES (CN) – The throng of demonstrators stood on an overpass in downtown LA, holding banners aloft and gripping onto the green chain link fence as a chorus of car horns greeted them below. Among the group were Hispanics, African-Americans and Muslims. They were all in their late teens to early twenties.

After word of protest spread on social media, the high school students had assembled on the steps of city hall on Wednesday, backpacks slung over their shoulders. “Fuck Trump,” “Not My President” and “Love Trumps Hate,” their banners read.

The passion and despair were palpable as the students took turns at a megaphone, cheered on by the small army gathered on the steps under the searing early afternoon sun.

As they took turns they each gripped the handle of the megaphone like they were taking aim with a gun.

“I have a friend who works in the school system and this morning she was with first graders,” a blonde girl in a green tank top yelled into the megaphone. “The kids came up to her saying they were afraid, that they were going to be hunted down by Trump supporters. They’d be beaten, possibly killed – with no punishment. We need to teach those kids that they are not living in a world like that and we’re not going to tolerate that. Who’s going to change it?”

“We will!” the crowd roared back.

Later in the evening, thousands more protesters streamed onto the streets. They were not alone; there were protests across the nation in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Many of the images showed young people taking to the streets to voice their opposition to the harsh, sobering reality that 70-year-old real estate mogul Donald Trump will be their next president.

Thousands of high school students staged walk-outs on Thursday afternoon in protest.

Trump’s victory the night before was compared to Britain’s shocking move to leave the European Union, known as Brexit. The generational divide that cracked open after that referendum was on display here too, as thousands of young demonstrators made their voices heard.

trump-4Samuel Christian, 18, said he joined the protest on Wednesday afternoon because he felt that an aging white population decided the election.

“It’s our future,” Christian said.

That sentiment was shared by Camila Sobral, 23, an artist who said Trump’s rise to power made her afraid for women, Muslims, Hispanics and the LGBTQ community.

“I felt like the youth voted for Hillary Clinton because she has beliefs that are more in line with ours. Against racism, against misogyny, against bigotry. But the future is ours more than all the white men that voted for him.”

Clinton underperformed with younger voters compared to President Barack Obama. But among voters aged 18 to 29, exit polls showed Clinton won 55 percent of the vote. Trump won 37 percent of the youth vote.

Among those aged 65 and over, however, Trump won 53 percent to Clinton’s 45 percent.

Trump had risen to power by making outlandish claims about immigration, including his plan to build a border wall and deport millions of immigrants. That left Aleph Ontiveros, a 16-year-old Latino, uneasy.

“This country I grew up in might not be the same in the next four years, or eight,” Ontiveros said. “I worry for my people, I worry for my family.”

Juliet Finklestein-Hynes, a 14-year-old student, fretted about the extreme beliefs of Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, who has previously advocated for public funding of so-called conversion therapy for gay and lesbian people.

trump-3Finklestein-Hynes, whose parents are gay, said she “cried a lot” when Trump won.

“It scared me because they had to deal with similar stuff growing up. And about immigration rights, I know a lot of people who are in the process of becoming citizens. Everything he believes is against what me and my family and everyone I know believe. And I was just really scared,” said Finklestein-Hynes.

As a group of protesters marched down toward LAPD headquarters, a man who appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties regarded them with quiet bewilderment. The grey-haired man who declined to give his name said he had voted for Trump. He suspected the steady line of young demonstrators might change their mind after the president-elect takes office.

“They’re just a bunch of sore losers,” he said. “But I think after he drains the swamp in Washington and they find out how crooked our federal government has been they’ll be glad in the end.”

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