College students gather at UH to lament Trump presidency
Donald Trump promised to have immigration agents at Karen Martinez’s door, she said, in tears, through a megaphone.
Martinez was one of many diverse speakers protesting Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president on the corner of Elgin Street and Cullen Boulevard at the UH soccer fields Wednesday night. Martinez, a graduate student studying interdisciplinary practice and emerging forms in the College of the Arts, expressed fear and anger at the election’s unlikely outcome.
The protesters represented a variety of local groups including the Black Panther Party, Black Lives Matter, the Houston Socialist Movement, the Emerging Latino Leaders and some communist activists. There were at least 50 people there, with the number fluctuating as more people participating throughout the protest.
The protesters also chanted things like, “The people united will never be defeated,” in English and Spanish, “Stand up, fight back,” and “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
A piñata in Trump’s likeness with red devil horns on the forehead also made an appearance. A sign on its chest read, “El hijo del Diablo, Donald Trump,” which translates to “The son of the Devil.”
“We’re tired,” said Jessica Rangel, a Mexican immigrant and criminal justice junior. “Just this morning, I was approached and just by the color of my skin was told that I should pack my bags. What’s better, to be crazy or to be chained up?”
The craziness Rangel was addressing was the protesters behind her, beating a Trump-themed pinata with a bat.
Protesters took turns smashing the piñata. After it was destroyed, they set the remains alight. Police officers quickly arrived and put out the fire while the crowd backed away and began dispersing.
Savannah Guzman, a member of the Houston Socialist Movement, didn’t expect protesters to burn the piñata.
“I think the beating of it was enough because the fire attracted the cops,” Guzman said. “That brings attention to us, makes us seem like we were doing something really wrong. It’s a peaceful protest. I don’t agree with the fire, but I do agree with the beating. It’s just a piñata. We’re not getting violent against people.”
A few protesters stayed behind after the crowd retreated from approaching police officers. One protester named Ashton Woods was filming the police officers as they worked.
Woods is a sociology senior at UH-Downtown as well as a member of Black Lives Matter Houston. He addressed the tentative crowd after police officers said they weren’t going to arrest anyone, reassuring them that it was OK to protest and that it was the police’s job to protect them.
Woods said the protest was necessary.
“This is much needed. It’s therapeutic,” Woods said. “We don’t accept the election of Donald Trump. Black Lives Matter stands by the Latino community, the Muslim community and we’re not for xenophobia, racism and hate.”
The protesters also marched a short distance, walking peacefully down Cullen Boulevard to Holman Street, before turning around and returning to their original location. They were chanting, “No war, no KKK, no fascist USA,” and displaying signs saying, “stop homophobia,” “stop fascism” and “liberation not deportation.”
Onlookers on the street watched with somber faces, saying nothing as the march went by. Some supporters saw the group and elected to join them.
“What we can do after our country has been pulled apart by these two candidates is pull it back together,” said Jeffrey Watson, a biomedical technology freshman, addressing the crowd.
Watson said he voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Bryan Sweeney, nicknamed Bryan X, is a Black Panther and an accounting senior at Texas Southern University. He said he joined the Panthers, a black nationalist political party founded on anti-racist and communist principles, this year after the police shooting of Alva Braziel in July.
Sweeney said he plans to go to law school after he graduates in December and dreams of becoming a civil rights lawyer.
“We come out here to bring together the people who feel the way we feel, so we can make a concentrated effort to make a real change and prevent what (Trump) is attempting to make happen,” Sweeney said. “We just gotta work with organizations that have a similar viewpoint because we can’t just remain divided based off ideologies. We have to find some common ground to make a change.”
Alycia Olson also contributed reporting to this story.