That time I… walked in a Trump protest

Experiencing the action firsthand drew my curiosity beyond my fear.

Maddi Seyfarth/ THE CHIMES

Maddi Seyfarth/ THE CHIMES

Maddi Seyfarth, Writer

The Uber dropped us off behind Los Angeles City Hall around 9:12 p.m. As our crew of four walked towards the front of the building, the sound of the crowd grew louder. I pretended to be checking my camera settings, which gave me an excuse to lag behind the rest of the group.

Independent Thinking

My real reasoning for lagging — I was terrified.

I was raised in a staunchly Republican home due to the fact that my mom was raised by an extremely conservative pastor in South Dakota. However, my dad, technically a member of the GOP, always encouraged me to think for myself politically.

Despite my more conservative parents, my extended family leaned pretty far to the left. The combination of influences gave me a very moderate view of politics.

It has always been of the highest importance for me to understand every side to every story. From early on, I recognized everyone has a distinct combination of experiences and understanding of the world that may be different from mine.

Therefore, the first thing I would like to clarify about my attendance of the Donald Trump protest I attended in South Central Los Angeles on the night of Nov. 10 is this: I was curious.

Rounding the corner of the building, the protesters began to come into view. I was completely unprepared for the amount of people bunched in front of City Hall, numbering in the hundreds.

The majority of protesters seemed to be people of color, millennials or a combination of the two. Many people wore store-bought or homemade anti-Trump shirts and carried signs with various slogans — some more explicit than others. Some that stood out to me said, “In 2020 YOU’RE FIRED” and another had a quote from Malcolm X which said, “Truth is on the side of the oppressed.”

Others carried flags, both full-sized and miniature, the majority of them being either the Mexican flag or the rainbow flag to signify the LGBT movement. One woman held her girlfriend’s hand while wearing a onesie covered in the face of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Shortly after arriving, the group began to march down the middle of the street. Although the rhetoric of the message seemed violent and angry, most of the protesters themselves seemed peaceful.

To gain understanding

The streets were filled with the smell of marijuana and chants of the protesters. Various slogans such as “F— Donald Trump”, “P—- grabs back” and “We reject the president elect” were shouted.

A few people tagged buildings and cars with expletives such as “F— Donald Trump in the p—-” and others broke shop windows, but the crowds strongly berated them when this occurred. As a response, the crowd often chanted, “Peaceful protest.”

Although the police were present, they stood on the side to monitor the crowds, and they did not get involved. Occasionally, a flare was shot off in the crowd and after a moment of confusion over whether it was a gunshot, the protesters would generally calm down and continue marching.

My intent in going was to gain understanding of the people, so after marching and taking photos for about an hour, I mustered up the courage to ask people about the intention of their own attendance. Although many people differed in specific beliefs about the election and intention of protesting, a similar theme seemed to unite them. USC student Joey Krieger put it in words most eloquently.

“We have to do something about it, we have to show each other that… we’re not crazy. We have a very rational outlook on the world, although it may not look like it right now — but we do. So we have to come together and make each other feel welcome and hopefully, ideally, use that momentum going forward to do something real,” Krieger said.

Spread like wildfire

After marching several blocks, the crowd reached an intersection blocked off by police in riot gear. Rumors spread like wildfire in the crowd, ranging from tear gas to arrest.

My group of four was pushed down an alleyway in an attempt to escape the threat of either. We approached the intersection from another street and stood on benches to get a better view.

Our benches were about 70 feet away from the line of police. The commotion amongst the crowd was loud and incoherent. A friend steadied me by my waist so I could stand on top of the back rest of the bench and take pictures without falling over.

Suddenly, many of the protesters in front of us turned and began to sprint away from the intersection. My immediate reaction was to follow suit — I jumped off the bench and ran.

After a few steps, I turned around to see who in my group was following and discovered it was just me. I cautiously approached our bench again and asked my friend what had happened.

She informed me that police had raised their guns at protesters. I asked if we could call an Uber and leave. Everyone agreed leaving was probably the best decision.

We rounded the corner of the street on the opposite side of the building to meet our Uber and a familiar neon sign caught my eye right before I got in the car. I looked up to see a bright red “Jesus Saves” glowing from between the trees.
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