Dozens of students from Mission High School marched to City Hall and joined hundreds of other San Francisco high schoolers in a city-wide walk-out on Thursday morning to protest the election of Donald Trump.
Students left school at 9 a.m. with the full support of many teachers and their principal, according to Eva Grace, a junior. Grace said that while students had been mournful the day after the election, they were organized to march by Thursday.
“Yesterday was a day of grieving — everyone was sad,” said the 16-year-old. “But today people are turning that grief into action.”
Students made their way down Valencia Street, Market Street, and then on to City Hall where hundreds of others were already assembled at the building’s steps, which had been barricaded by sheriff’s deputies. There, the crowd launched into chants — “Not my president!” and “Fuck Donald Trump!” were popular, the latter often accompanied by a middle finger in the air.
One chant began “Pussy grabs back!” in reference to Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment, and turned into “Sí se puede!” by the students, a segment of whom were waving the Salvadoran and Mexican flags and shouting “Latinos, unidos, jamas seran vencidos!” — Latinos, united, will never be defeated.
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 10, 2016
Angel Spruell, an 18-year-old senior, spoke through a mic in the middle of the crowd and lambasted the millions of Americans who voted for Trump, saying they were mistaken and that “no one should tell us what to do.”
“Everything thinks Donald Trump is a good president,” she started. “That nigga ain’t shit.”
Lindsey Heldens, a 16-year-old junior from Mission High, echoed Spruell’s disbelief, saying she did not understand how half the country could vote for Trump.
“I was completely astounded that so many people in our country would elect an idiot,” she said. “Donald Trump is unfit to be president.”
D.J. Fisher, another 16-year-old Mission High junior, said many of Trump’s supporters were racists. As a black woman, she said she worried about the casual racism that came from Trump’s campaign and saw a bleak future for people like herself.
“We have to grow up with this and know that many people are racist and that they really don’t trust people of color,” she said.
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 10, 2016
From City Hall, the crowd, easily over a thousand strong, moved down Market Street towards the Ferry Building before taking a detour into the Financial District, snarling traffic as they marched down Montgomery Street. Many drivers didn’t seem to mind, however — the march received dozens of honks of support. One Muni driver gave the students high-fives as they marched past, while another matched his horn blasts to the marchers’ chants.
The columns of students frequently broke up, groups of dozens often separated by blocks. Police officers on motorcycles drove along and between protesters to clear traffic, but sometimes could not anticipate the students’ path. When marchers moved down Montgomery Street, for instance, officers did not have time to clear traffic and the protesters streamed past gridlocked cars.
There were no incidents, though one student threw an egg at a squad car halting traffic for the march. The car drove off and the student disappeared into the crowd.
As part of the city-wide protest, some 300 students from Lick-Wilmerding High School in the Excelsior staged a walk-out of their own. Bound for City Hall, they marched along Mission Street, crossing 19th Street around 11:30 a.m.
“We are not happy about it,” said Nigel Berkeley, a senior, referring to Trump’s presidency, adding that they were calling for “a peaceful transition of power.”
“We are protesting not just hate and what Trump has been talking about, but the criminalization of homelessness in the city, gentrification, the death penalty,” added one of Berkeley’s schoolmates. The walkout was student-organized and led, according to Eric Friedman, a science teacher at Lick-Wilmerding.
“The students decided this morning that they wanted to have their voices heard. They organized it all and made signs this morning and brought some teachers along – we are just observing, not telling them what to do or how to do it,” said Friedman.
The student protest was the second anti-Trump march in just 12 hours in San Francisco, following another on Wednesday night that saw thousands march from City Hall to the Castro and Mission districts to show solidarity with the LGBT and Latino communities, among others. Organizers said they would be among the most impacted by Trump’s presidency, and frequently shouted “Immigrants are welcome here!” while others in the march waved rainbow flags.
We don’t aggregate, we don’t bloviate, we report – and that takes feet on the ground.
Know your community, join Mission Local and keep our reporting alive.
Near 11 a.m. and after miles of marching, students turned on Sacramento Street and moved towards the Ferry Building, continuing to block traffic as they marched down Embarcadero towards the Pier 39. They shouted “Hey hey, ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” as tourists and those on lunch break stood taking photos and video of the protest.
They then turned back towards City Hall, where a circle of students sat near the barricaded entrance, taking turns speaking about the effects a Trump presidency would have on them.
“My fellow Americans of all colors, let’s stand together,” said Abdul Abozid, a student from Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. A Muslim, Abozid said he had seen the stereotypes about his religion spread by Trump and his supporters and was concerned about the future for him and others. “Every color, black brown white, we are all equal and one nation under God.”
Raayan Mohtashemi, a 17-year-old from Lick-Wilmerding, said he was the head of the environmental club at his school and terrified at what a Trump presidency would mean for combating climate change. President Trump, he said, could easily undo the work done by Obama.
The protest, he said, was a means of showing the new president where he and others stood.
“When they go low, we go high. This is what going high looks like,” he said. Those around him chanted “We reject the president-elect!”
As of 1:30 p.m., some 500 students remained at City Hall, frequently joined by dozens of others as groups trickled in from other schools throughout the afternoon. By 2 p.m., they were marching towards the Mission District, quickly traversing Market Street and then Valencia Street.
They made a stop at Mission Police Station before heading along 18th Street toward the Castro, where they paused at Harvey Milk Plaza. From there it was back down along Market Street for the remaining students, their numbers now diminished to several dozen, many of them young women with “My body, my choice,” written on their faces.
The smaller group returned to City Hall, where after some five hours of marching, the protest appeared to come to an end.
Faith Marquez, a 15-year-old sophomore at the Academy of Arts and Sciences High School, said she helped organize the walkout in part in response to what she heard at protests on Wednesday night.
“I went to the protest last night and a lot of people said we were too young to understand this election,” she said.
She disagreed, and said high school students are more than capable of understanding the Trump presidency. She used social media to spread the word, and got multiple schools together for Thursday morning.
“I’m actually a lesbian, and my aunt’s homophobic, and I live with her,” Marquez said. She said she worried about gay conversion therapy, a practice Trump’s vice president-elect Mike Pence ostensibly supports.
Kelsey Medina, also 15 and a sophomore at Mission High School, has a Mexican father and said she is traumatized by the election. Throughout the day, she periodically led the students as they marched.
“I will lose the people I care about to a dumb person who doesn’t know what he’s doing,” she said.