They chanted “Love trumps hate,” “Not my president” and “pussy grabs back.” The crowd was highly energized, many were angry. Some chanted “Fuck Trump” while others implored that faction of the large crowd to not “stoop to their level.”
The rally turned into an impromptu march around downtown Providence that shut down car lanes at time and lasted for hours after the event. Similar scenes played out in cities across the country, as more rural areas celebrated Trump’s rise to power.
There was a strong fear that Trump’s presidency will be a nightmare for equality and justice, particularly for people of color.
“What we saw was a white nationalist takeover of our government,” said Mike Aruajo, the executive director of Rhode Island Jobs With Justice.”The solidarity of skin color won the day and you need to be honest about that.”
Aruajo implored the crowd to organize against not only Trump, but also House Speaker Nick Mattiello, both for enabling racism and white supremacy.
“Though we know the arc of history bends toward justice, we have to bend that mother fucker,” he said. “Comrades, are we going to shut this mother fucker down?” To which the crowd, hundreds strong, responded with a resounding, “Yes!”
Representative-elect Moira Walsh, the only elected official I saw there, said women everywhere – even young girls – now fear for their safety because Trump’s election will foster a culture where sexual assault and violence against women will again be an acceptable practice in America.
“This is everyone’s responsibility,” she said, often fighting back tears. “This is on all of us. This is our time to prove that we can be better than our racist grandparents. This is the time that we can prove that we love every single neighbor that we have. Gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, black, white and anywhere in between.
She added, “We’re not going to win this by yelling ‘fuck Trump.’ We’re going to win this by being together … and witnessing the power that we have together. Because there ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don’t fucking stop.”
Rodrigo Pimental, an LGBTQ and immigrant activist, said, “It’s 2016 and George Wallace won.”
An “undocumented American” Pimental said many immigrants now fear for their safety. “We must resist,” he said. “We must organize the power we already have and show the nation that we matter. I am with you, I will fight for you and I hope you will fight for me.”
The crowd was diverse in age, gender, skin color and socioeconomic status. I recognized Humanists, civil libertarians, local activists, NEARI officials and URI professors.
Some had legitimate fear that Trump’s rise to power could mean the end of the American experiment. One person told me he thinks Trump could roll back enough progress that it will take left the rest of his life to get back to where our country had risen to as of Monday.