Yesterday felt like a sick dream. It was the first time I understood what people meant when they experienced a tragedy and they said it felt like a nightmare they kept trying to wake up from. I felt so disheartened, so heartsick, and so worried for all the people in this country – particularly the millions that Trump attacked in one way or another.
When my friend Kaitlynn asked if I wanted to go to a Trump rally in downtown Chicago, it felt like a great way to get out some of my anger and be surrounded by people who felt the same way I did. What it ended up being was an inspiring reminder of how many people there are in this country who refuse to accept that it is okay for a president to be a racist, sexist, hateful bigot. This protest showed that although we cannot change what happened, we can certainly put up a fight in the future and refuse to allow our country to be set back by multiple decades.
For some perspective, here’s a reminder of what happened to a peaceful protester at a pro-Trump rally a few months ago:
And in comparison, here are all of the funny, heartening, and wonderful things that happened at Chicago’s anti-Trump rally last night:
- The protest started outside of Trump Tower in Chicago. Police prevented us from getting too close, but the protest itself was completely peaceful and respectful, mostly made up of chants and speeches about the dangers of Trump.
- Here’s what it looked like:
- People chanted encouraging things all night, including “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” as well as “No Trump! No KKK! No more racist USA!”
- While the chants were (for the most part) respectful, there were also a couple hilarious ones, including my personal favorite: “Can’t build a wall! Hands too small!”
- There was also a long period of time where everyone just shouted “Pussy grabs back!” which was pretty great.
- An adorable young family brought their two-year-old son, a precious little blonde boy who held up a cardboard sign that said there was no room for hate in this country.
- Various friends found each other in the crowd, hugged, and almost immediately started crying. Even when you couldn’t hear what they were saying, you could tell they were whispering consoling things to one another.
- A priest stood towards the back, wearing a rainbow stole [a scarf-like vestment that a priest wears over his traditional black cassock]. He hugged, chatted with, and comforted various people who stopped by to speak to him.
- When we started marching through the streets, pedestrians along the sidewalk either stopped to watch us and cheer us on, or they literally just jumped right in and joined the march on their way home from work or wherever they were going.
- I bumped into people, stepped on people’s feet, and accidentally walked in front of people multiple times. Every time I did and I apologized, I was greeted with pats on the back, a “No worries!” response, or a “Seriously, no problem at all! This is awesome isn’t it??”
- A massive cardboard cut out of Trump portrayed as a fat, disgusting baby was marched through the streets for hours on end.
- Every time police tried to block us from going a certain way, the crowd found a way around it by climbing over or around certain things. And while doing so, multiple people stopped and guided the rest of the crowded to the safest place to cross through.
- At one point we were walking underneath one of the overhead L trains, and people crowded the stairs at each entrance and cheered us on from above, dancing and screaming.
- When someone was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat or screaming at us about Trump winning, they were simply ignored and left alone, instead of attacked.
- When we took over Michigan Avenue, people blasted music out of their cars and cheered us on (even though we were holding them up for long periods of time). One person was literally blasting a song out of their car called “Fuck Trump.”
- When we stormed Lake Shore Drive and forced hundreds of drivers to wait for nearly an hour while we paraded through this highway, people rolled down their windows and high-fived us, cheered us on, laughed, filmed us, and honked their horns in encouragement. One older man give me a fist pump and told me to “keep it up.”
- We passed multiple middle-aged white men waiting in their cars, and each time I was expecting an aggressive pro-Trump statement, but every time, they high-fived us and screamed with delight and yelled “Fuck Trump!”
- I can’t speak for the evening as a whole, but from what I saw of Chicago police, they were respectful and were not aggressive. They mostly let us do whatever we wanted and go wherever we wanted. A couple of times they tried to steer our route slightly to keep us out of the way of fast-moving cars, but they didn’t really make any move to stop us when people were climbing on top of buses and getting extremely hyped up.
- Speaking of climbing on buses, a CTA bus driver whose bus got stranded in the street because of protesters came off of his bus and high-fived us and cheered us on, while protesters continued to climb on the roof of his bus and scream “Fuck Trump!”
- A whole group of people started chanting “Free the horses” in reference to a bunch of police offers sitting on horses. This obviously had nothing to do with the rally whatsoever, but it was hilarious.
- Every person I walked by smiled at me, helped me climb up on things, cheered with me, and mourned with me. It was a protest against hate, but one surrounded with love and acceptance.