Willamette community holds solidarity demonstration

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Willamette community holds solidarity demonstration

11:02 a.m. PST November 12, 2016

Hundreds of students, staff and community members gathered at Willamette University in Salem for a demonstration Friday.

Though many people were vocally opposed to President-elect Donald Trump, organizers began the protest saying, “This is not about Donald Trump.

The purpose of the demonstration was “to show an unwillingness to accept the dangerous messages of racism, homophobia, xenophobia and sexual assault,” said Nate Dausman, one of the demonstration organizers.

He said the organizers felt the aforementioned messages have “been validated by Donald Trump’s becoming (the) President-elect.”

Protests and demonstrations have been occurring nationwide, including multiple marches in Portland that have stopped interstate traffic.

There have also been pro-Trump rallies and demonstrations, such as the one led by a group of Silverton High School students on Tuesday.

The Willamette demonstrators gathered on Jackson Plaza, a central location on campus, and later marched to the Capitol.

“The gathering (was) meant to be a display of solidarity and support for the people of historically marginalized identities, who are experiencing negative reactions to Tuesday night’s results,” Dausman said. “The emotion and support that people (showed) was overwhelming.”

Many held signs with phrases like “Solidarity Against Fascist Trump,” “Love Trumps Hate,” “Not My President,” and “Black Lives Reject Amerikkka.”

There was no vocal opposition or any counter-protesters at the rally.

Organizers had a microphone and speakers set up so anyone who wanted could “speak their piece” to the group, saying the opportunity to share was primarily for traditionally marginalized groups, including people of color, LGBTQ members and people with disabilities.

Multiple people spoke in front of the packed plaza.

Speakers shared their fears, made requests of fellow demonstrators, and gave advice on how to move forward productively.

As they shared their thoughts, they also shed tears, gave hugs, and cheered for one another.

“Trump scares me … but this … makes me hopeful… (it) makes me feel brave enough to fight,” said the first person who spoke, who identified as queer.

Akerah Mackey, another organizer of the event, advised people in attendance to know their rights and prepare for next steps. She said people should be documenting any and all hate crimes they witness or experience.

Speaking to the crowd, she said, “You are beautiful. You are loved. You are valid.”

Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com

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