Peaceful but not quiet: Protesting the inauguration
Hours after President Donald Trump placed his hand on two bibles and was sworn in to become the 45th President of the United States, students at the University of Oregon united to demonstrate their anguish.
At first, marches and rallies throughout the weekend reflected anger and fear in Eugene. Unity and strength followed. The city joined thousands of others around the world to engage in demonstrations of equality and respect.
Unlike several marches throughout the Northwest, all events in Eugene were peaceful. One protest at the University of Washington resulted in a man being shot, and in Portland, police used tear gas to subdue protesters, according to a report by KTVZ.
At the first of three events in Eugene, members of the Graduate Teachers Fellowship Federation rallied about 25 students in the EMU on Friday afternoon.
“We know there are a lot of people today on this weird day in American history who don’t quite know what to do with themselves,” GTTF staff organizer Michael Marchman said after Trump’s inauguration. “Some people are feeling upset. Some are feeling really angry and ready to fight.”
Students participating sat at tables and on the ground. Some wrote slogans on posters. One student held a sign reading “Don’t mourn, organize,” on one side, with “Organize & Fight Bigotry,” scrawled on the back.
Students used the posters later in the evening when they marched from the EMU amphitheater to downtown Eugene.
“How can we work together?” Marchman asked. “What are we going to do to resist the tremendous aggression we are going to see toward workers, women, the LGBTQ community and people of color?”
About 60 people gathered in the EMU Amphitheater on Friday night to rally against the inauguration, share speeches and march downtown to raise awareness for their discontent of the Trump’s suspected policies.
One of the marchers, UO junior Preslee Thorne, said her family is supported by the Affordable Care Act, which the president continued to oppose with the signing of an executive order that day.
“I’m really scared to see what the future of our healthcare system is like,” Thorne said.
Thorne said her main concern is for her mother, who uses Obamacare to help pay for her arthritis medication.
Leo Perez, a UO senior, also marched with the group. As an immigrant, Perez said that the president doesn’t represent him.
“It is really frightening listening to people having to be deported — being separated from their families,” he said.
Other members of campus and the Eugene community continued to voice their concerns about Trump and issues of social justice the next day.
An estimated 10,000 Eugenians participated in the Women’s March on Washington. The march was connected to a global effort of uniting people in many cities on behalf of women, minorities and others affected by the president’s rhetoric.
The march, from Wayne Morse U.S. Courthouse to WOW Hall, began with speeches at the courthouse. When rain began to fall, people grabbed their umbrellas and signs and marched together down W. 8th Avenue.
UO student Melania Winslow said the march was important for students because she is worried about losing some of her civil rights.
“There was a feeling of urgency [at the march],” Winslow said. “This is a necessity that needs to happen now.”
Although the march was formed by opposition, Winslow said there was a feeling of hope in the streets of Eugene.
Among the crowd, protester Sarah Fouad wore an American flag hijab around her head. She carried a sign reading, “Hug a Muslim.”
Fouad said she marched to support her community and raise her voice against the new administration.
“A lot of our community is afraid,” she said, referencing Trump’s talk of creating a registry for Muslims in the United States. “My family didn’t want to leave their house because they didn’t know what was going to happen. They didn’t want to become a target.”
Every few seconds, someone noticed Fouad’s sign and gave her a hug.
“Personally, I’ve needed a hug,” Fouad said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the future because we don’t know if [Trump] is going to stay true to his word.”
A week before the inauguration, UO students from Allen Hall Advertising launched the “Reset the Code” campaign to promote community on campus.
According to AHA co-director Cameron Kokes, students running the campaign wanted to find something that unites everyone, while also showing that people are different. They created a “95_” logo that represents the shared first two digits of every student and staff member’s ID number, a symbol of the UO community’s common goals.
They stuck banners with the logo on the windows of campus and gave “95_” t-shirts to students at a Ducks basketball game, which aired on national television.
Over 2,000 people have made a pledge on the campaign website, resetthecode.uoregon.edu.
“There’s always the goal of bringing campus a little closer,” said Kokes. “Everyone can identify with treating each other with mutual respect. I hope this campaign encourages that.”
On Monday, Jan. 23, the Climate Justice League and Cascadia Action Network are holding a walkout protesting members of the president’s cabinet who don’t believe in climate change.
The Facebook page for the event states that the walkout is meant to normalize nonviolent direct action and resistance to the new administration’s harmful policies. The walkout is planned to take place at 1 p.m. outside the EMU where campus leaders will discuss ways students can support the environment despite the president and his cabinet’s denial of climate change.
Trump tweeted the day after the Women’s March that, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”
Despite his tweet, many feel ignored by the president. UO junior Frankie Benitez says that the protests over the weekend happened because Trump doesn’t represent the people.
“When millions of people are marching across the country and he ignores it and he hates them and he talks about his enemies and disrespects women and minorities and gay people and trans people, immigrants, the planet even, that’s so many people that he’s not representing,” Benitez said.
Benitez suggests students at UO take more direct action to change the circumstances they are disappointed with.
“Get involved in politics from the very start — local politics and national politics — to understand what’s going on,” she said. “One thing that’s really sad is if every person who had marched had voted, we might not even be in this position in the first place.”
Anna Lieberman, Max Thornberry, Jack Pitcher, Braedon Kwiecien, Andrew Field, Emma Henderson, Noah McGraw and Will Campbell contributed to this article.
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