Chants, cheers, and whistles were deafening in the Highway 101 underpass as marchers in the United Against Hate movement protested a president-elect whose words “bring out all the bad” in the country, said one participant. Hundreds headed down State Street from De la Guerra Plaza, packing the road from edge to edge for several blocks Saturday afternoon, “Love Trumps Hate” signs mixed in with the salty “Pussy Grabs Back.” Talking through bullhorns, speakers representing the LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Mexican-American, Native American, and other groups spoke to a throng of people — from oldsters to young kids and families and everyone in between — for the need to stand together. Fear was a common theme for many out of a feeling that the election result sanctions anger toward minority communities.
The overall tone of the speeches, which took place along the marchers’ route at De la Guerra Plaza, the Dolphin Fountain, and Pershing Park, was less anti-Trump and more about fears for the safety of the vulnerable populations affected by Trump’s plans from immigration to refugees. Others viewed marriage equality and LGBTQ rights to be in danger from vice president-elect Mike Pence’s vow to take back President Obama’s protections. The speeches also included recognition of the police officers at work on the edges of the crowd — with the comment that marchers could decline to be searched and did not need to state their immigration status — and the other protesters in North Dakota determined to keep an oil pipeline from tunneling under the Missouri River upstream of a Sioux reservation. One talked about a prisoner’s right to receive letters in County Jail, “A 6-year-old can’t write small enough for a postcard.”
In keeping with the peaceful tone, when a grey-haired Trump supporter began to harangue the crowd at Stearns Wharf, the speaker asked for calm while several organizers moved the man away for a private conversation about his concerns. As the speeches continued, marchers still heading through the underpass could be heard chanting in the distance: “Gay Is Okay!” “Trans Lives Matter!” their ranks swelled by passersby joining the march. A couple of high school students could be seen sheltering in the shade of a sign that read “You Can’t Comb Over Hate” on the hot, blue-skied afternoon.
Cars tooted their horns in approval and restaurant patrons sitting at outdoor tables waved to the marchers as they turned toward Pershing Park, where a small group wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and candidate T-shirts waited for them. Neither side spoke to each other, and after several more speeches and a closing ceremony, the hot, hungry, thirsty crowd slowly broke apart and went their separate ways.
The Indy thanks Ryan Lynch for use of his photograph.