A few weeks ago, after Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States, backlash all over the country broke out. Aggravating to some and empowering to others, people weren’t afraid to speak their minds. This was evident in Richland on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, November 15 two protests took place in Richland Town Square–one against the electoral college and one in support for Trump. Originally, only one protest planned for this day was against the electoral college outcome.
Parents and students from Gull Lake High School and throughout the community exercised the right of freedom to peaceably assemble and spread the word about their movements via social media and word of mouth.
[pullquote]“We just wanted to show the community and the people in the community that have been hurt by the actions inspired by Trump’s words and the words of people like him. That there are people that stand with them in solidarity,” said junior Leo Cooper. [/pullquote]
“We just got our signs and stood by the road and showed the people passing through our message,” said junior Leo Cooper, who played a role in the organization of the anti-electoral college protest.
Because of this, Trump supporters in the community joined in opposition.
“Their protest doesn’t prove anything, doesn’t change anything. They just wanted to show up and I mean, Trump is our president now. They have to deal with it for the next four years,” said sophomore Bryce Brooks, who attended the protests in defense of Trump.
Trump supporters and those who opposed the protests made an impromptu show in Richland at the same time the original protest had been scheduled. During the protest, both sides stood just a few feet away from one another on the same sidewalk strip in Richland.
“It went really well,” Brooks said. “It was more of a joke, because Trump won. We just showed up to protest the anti-Trump protesters.”
Senior Ethan Liggett, who helped organize the anti-electoral college protest, said there was a lot of opposition.
“There were about six people that decided to protest our protest and support their candidate, President elect Trump, and that’s totally fine,” Liggett said. “But, there was a lot of name calling and rude behavior on that side.”
Cooper said “some yelling and arguing” was to be expected.
“When the Trump guys showed up, we weren’t surprised,” Cooper said, “and for the most part it was peaceful. here was some yelling and arguing but overall it was fine. Tensions were high though and when we started our chants and when someone in the car would voice their opinions, for either side.”
Since the protest was in the middle of Richland during the busiest time of the day, cars passed by frequently and attracted a lot of attention. Passerbys would honk and yell words of encouragement or put down the protesters.
“We really wanted to show kindness and love and support, and it was really weird how showing that love and support got opposition from the community,” Liggett said. “People flipping us off, calling us names, stuff like that. Those few little thumbs ups or honks kept us going.”
There was interaction from passersby beyond just vocalizing support.
“People started dropping off supplies for us, helping us stay out,” sophomore Chris Sherman said. “We got drinks and clothes from other people because it was cold.”
After a few hours, the original protest moved to Kalamazoo.
“I really wanted to encourage people from our protest to move on to Kalamazoo,” said Liggett. “Eight of the people in Richland went to Kalamazoo. It was crazy. We ended up marching on the streets. It was really nice to be surrounded by people who support you rather than opposed you.”
The city of Kalamazoo supported Clinton this election and is known to have a tendency to vote liberal.
The Trump side didn’t move to Kalamazoo.
“We just stayed in Richland,” Brooks said.
And while politics is often a taboo topic in everyday conversation, there has been a big call for unity from all over the United States after division created from recent events. Still, despite that call, tensions remain high.
“I feel there was no unification,” Sherman said. “If anything at all, I feel that we kind of split [as a nation]. There was lots of arguing from each side, and I don’t think it [the election] went down that well. We wanted to talk to them about that he’s our president now and that they can’t change the outcome. We’re all on this ship together, and if you’re trying to sink it, you have to remember you’re on this ship too.”