By Ella Murdock Gardner and Zahra RothschildLowell junior Erin Cross-Kaplan makes a speech as San Francisco students gather around City Hall to protest Donald Trump’s victory. Photo by Kenny DzibOver 200 Lowell students walked out of school to City Hall today to protest Donald Trump’s victory in the recent presidential election.
Students left campus at around 10 a.m. and took the train to Montgomery Street. There, they were met with another group of students from various San Francisco high schools and marched to City Hall. Over a thousand students joined in over the course of the march, according to several news sources.
Information about the protest had circulated on social media the previous night. At about 9 a.m., groups of Lowell students began gathering in front of the flagpole.
The protestors marched down Market Street toward the Ferry Building, waving signs and chanting “Love Trumps Hate” and “We reject the president-elect.” They were met with cheers and honks from enthusiastic bystanders, some of whom even bought water for the marchers and joined them.
Students prepare signs minutes before the walkout. Photo by Tobi Kawanami.
Some male bystanders questioned the relevance of the protest, one saying “You’re not even old enough to vote.” A student responded “It’s our future, you bitch!”
At the Ferry Building, students met another group of student protesters. Together, they marched through the Embarcadero, along the waterfront and Fisherman’s Wharf, past Galileo High School and down Van Ness Avenue toward City Hall.
Students march down Market Street towards the Embarcadero. Photo by Kenny Dzib.
When they finally reached City Hall at around 12:30 p.m., the protesters sat down and listened to students from different schools who passed around a megaphone and spoke about what they stood for and how they felt about the election.
Students were thankful to finally have their voices heard after feeling underrepresented throughout the election. “What we’re trying to do is show that we have power because we have a voice,” said junior Claire Garcia, “We couldn’t vote during the election so the only way we have power is if we speak up and let them know that no, we are not okay with this.”
Protestors write words of encouragement on signs. Photo by Tobi Kawanami.
One student talked about her fear of the negative consequences a Trump presidency would have for her family, who are immigrants from Mexico. “My family does not bring drugs and crime,” she said. “We came here because the government in Mexico is corrupt. We came to work and be successful. We came to have a better life.”
Another student talked about being Muslim in Trump’s America, while another addressed his concern for the environment. Many preached unity in the face of adversity and called for action on the part of like-minded young people.
“We came here because the government in Mexico is corrupt. We came to work and be successful. We came to have a better life.”
Myong Leigh, San Francisco Unified School District’s interim superintendent, took a turn with the megaphone to commend the students for peacefully expressing their opinions. “We know a lot of you are scared, angry, upset, bewildered,” Leigh said. “Please know that all the adult allies care about you and love you and have your back.”
While students were united by a common sense of injustice, different people approached the protest in different ways. Some chanted “Fuck Donald Trump” and called for impeachment while others chanted “we are the students, we are the future.”
Students walk toward the Ferry Building holding signs mocking Trump’s sexism. Photo by Kenny Dzib.
Lowell junior Scout Mucher advocated for a more peaceful and optimistic approach to the aftermath of the election. “We need to promote kindness and acceptance and tolerance toward everyone, including Trump supporters,” she said. “Because our country is so divided, we need to bring everyone together. We’re showing that we’re not happy with the election, but we’re speaking up for what we believe in and what unites us.”
Some Lowell students, who remained at school, didn’t see the walk out as an appropriate move. “I believe [the protest] is unnecessary,” said senior Joshua Toy. “[Trump] just got elected, and we don’t know what he is capable of yet. We need to keep an open mind and give him a chance.”
Some students faced consequences from their schools’ administrations for participating in the protest. A group from Mercy High School told Lowell reporters that they got hostile reactions from teachers as they tried to leave school. One girl from Sacred Heart Cathedral told the crowd of protesters that she’d been suspended for walking out.
“We’re showing that we’re not happy with the election, but we’re speaking up for what we believe in and what unites us.”
At Lowell earlier that morning, as the students prepared to leave school, administration showed their support. “I think they’re exercising their democratic right to protest,” assistant principal Dacotah Swett said. The school even had the cafeteria prepare 400 bagged lunches for the protesters.
Near Pier 39, students hold their sign across a city street. Photo by Kenny Dzib.
Assistant principal Margaret Peterson volunteered to supervise the students during the walkout after principal Andrew Ishibashi suggested that at least one administrator be there. Ishibashi was away at a conference but sent Peterson a text showing his support for the students, telling her to be safe, and saying “I am so proud of all of them!”
The protesters hoped to peacefully show the world that they were not willing to accept a country where love, tolerance, equality and kindness are not ruling values, according to Garcia.