More than 2,000 protesters march in Grand Rapids at ‘Not My President’ rally

Sanda Vazgec

The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan came to a halt on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 10 as more than 2,000 protesters took over the streets, marching in opposition to the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S.

Since the first protest, several other marches, including a second in downtown Grand Rapids Saturday, Nov. 12 have emerged across the nation.

The Thursday night rally began around 5 p.m. as hundreds of people gathered in Rosa Parks Circle to take part in a “Not My President” peaceful protest.

Organizers of the event spoke to the crowd addressing their concerns and stating a need to make sure their voices are heard. The event was organized via Facebook and those leading the cause only expected about 50 people to show up.

Soon, hundreds of people turned into thousands when a “Take it to the streets” chant around 6 p.m. prompted protesters to march throughout the city for approximately two hours.

People of all ages, genders, religions and races walked side by side, holding up signs and chanting as they flooded the streets, causing traffic to stop and redirect. Protesters chanted “Love trumps hate,” “I reject the president-elect” and “Sí se puede,” which translates to “Yes we can” in Spanish. Residents of the city looked out from their windows, shouting and some joining in throughout the march.

Anna Blauw, a participant in the protest, said for her, the election of Donald Trump shows a darker side to the U.S.

“When our country elected Donald Trump, (it) said we don’t care about the LGBT community, people of color, women and minorities and that’s not OK with me,” Blauw said. “I don’t want to be represented by someone like that because I don’t believe that’s what we should stand for as a country.”

Briana Urena Ravelo, an organizer of the event said it was more than just a protest of Donald Trump, but a protest of inequality.

“I hope people will see that they have power in themselves,” Urena Ravelo said. “Systems are f****d, they’re specifically calibrated to give us these results and it’s up to us to change that.”

However, not all Grand Rapids residents were happy to see the protest transpire. Jonathan Mosti was driving down the street with a group of friends when he and his friends voiced their support for Trump.

“This is absolutely ridiculous and a waste of time,” Mosti said. “(Trump) hasn’t even done anything yet and they’re already rioting. Give him a chance.”

Another man walked out into the street from a nearby restaurant expressing disagreement, stating protesters needed to “Get over it, it’s done.”

The march circled around the city a few times and returned back to Rosa Parks Circle around 8 p.m., where Urena Ravelo lead the crowd in a chant.

Jose Rodriguez, another organizer of the event thanked the crowd for participating and urged them not to cause any violence on their commutes home.

Officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department were on the scene throughout the night helping direct traffic. Eric Hornbacher of GRPD said the main goal was to make sure everyone stayed safe.