TUCSON (CN) – Wearing a lavender T-shirt imprinted with words of support for undocumented immigrants, Cynthia Diaz listened intently Monday to fellow University of Arizona students who despaired over Donald Trump’s election.
She too felt distraught when it became clear that Trump was headed to the White House. His campaign promise hit home because Diaz’s mother is living in the country illegally.
“My mom’s scared,” said Diaz, a UA senior.
She joined hundreds of students at a university protest directed at the president-elect as a statement that the verbal attacks during his campaign against immigrants, women and Muslims – among others – won’t be tolerated.
Hoisting signs “Dump Trump,” “Shame, Shame on America,” and “No More Deportations,” demonstrators joined a growing protest movement that has brought throngs of people to the streets of Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Ore., and other cities for six consecutive days.
In Tucson, students one by one expressed their dissatisfaction with Trump onstage between musical performances as a racially mixed crowd of mostly young people applauded, chanted, “Not my president!” and at one point held each other’s hands high above their heads.
Trump at the protest declined to comment. A few shouted at the anti-Trump crowd; others wore hats with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Despite predictions that Democrats might win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for the first time in 20 years, Trump carried the state by more than 85,000 votes over Hillary Clinton.
The election results dismayed many of the protesters in Pima County, Tucson’s seat, which went for Clinton. Trump carried Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, in the Phoenix area — a typical political split in Arizona.
“This election was not rooted in policies to make effective change in our nation, but instead it was rooted in hate and bigotry,” student Khadra Farah, a protest organizer, told the crowd. “We should preserve and embrace the cultural diversity that America’s made up of.”
The war of words that Trump launched against minority groups has spread uncertainty and fear on campus and in the greater community, Farah and other students told the gathering just before dusk.
“I’m aware that all individuals are to be protected by the First Amendment,” Farah said. “But if the message directly attacks students and invokes fear among a vast majority of students on campus, that is not acceptable.”
Retiree Lorraine Donovan attended the protest with her daughter, Melissa. Both held signs showing discontent with the president-elect. The younger woman expressed concerns about the erosion of civil liberties under the next administration. Her mother said that “the way Trump preaches hate and divides people scare me.”
UA student Nolan Rose said he joined the protest to offer moral support to those who worry about having Trump as the country’s leader. Next to him stood student Manuel Vazquez, who said he isn’t happy with Trump but he didn’t vote for Clinton, either.
“In some way, I don’t think the world’s going to end,” Vazquez said. “But it is going to damage us and hurt us in the long run.”
When the speeches ended, the crowd marched to a nearby park where they chanted in unison.
Stephanie Zamora, who helped organize the demonstration, said she expects protests will continue in Tucson and elsewhere as long as Trump is in office.
“It’s very dangerous to be complacent in the face of racism, homophobia, xenophobia – all the things that the president-elect embodies,” she said. “It’s important to take stand against that.”
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