Video by Sydney Soofer
Roughly 100 students walked out of their classes and onto the South Lawn on Monday in protest of views expressed by President-elect Donald Trump during his campaign.
Many of the protesters said that they were not protesting Trump’s right to be president, but rather the discrimination and hatred that they feel a Trump presidency represents.
“I feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what the protest is about. People were saying, ‘[The protest] is pointless because you can’t prevent Trump from becoming president.’ But for me, that’s not what the protest is about,” said junior Isabella Poutiatine, who attended the protest.
Walkouts also took place Monday at Tamalpais High School, Drake High School and Terra Linda High School, and last week, students protested at Marin Academy and the Urban School of San Francisco.
Throughout the roughly 1½ hour walkout in which students marched through downtown Larkspur, protesters chanted “Not my president,” “My body my choice” and “Love trumps hate.”
According to junior Katie Israel, some members of the community pulled their cars over and joined the students’ protest as they were walking through Larkspur.
Israel said that she joined the protest to support minority communities.
Video by Sydney Soofer
“At Redwood, I think that some minorities were thinking that most of the country doesn’t care about them enough to not vote for a guy who is going to ruin their lives,” Israel said. “We wanted to make sure that people at this school know [it doesn’t matter] what skin color you have or who you love; that doesn’t define you. You are accepted at this community for who you are.”
Some of the Redwood students protesting said that they hoped the protest would show that hate crimes, like the ones they claim Trump has inspired, are not accepted in the Redwood community.
“I think [Trump’s message] is really scary for a lot of people,” Israel said. “We were just protesting Trump’s [racist] mentality and the awful stories coming out of Trump supporters saying ‘this is our country now’ and all of the hate crimes that have happened since the election.”
However, the walkout protest was not void of controversy, as the protesters were met by pro-Trump supporters. There was no violence between students, but arguments did break out between the two groups.
Members of the administration including Principal David Sondheim, vice-principals and campus security, followed both protest groups as they marched around campus and through Larkspur.
“Free speech is extended to everybody regardless of who students voted for or supported,” said principal David Sondheim. “My job as a principal is to make sure that all students are safe, so we took steps as needed to secure the safety of all students.”
In addition to the protest, six members of the Amnesty International Club walked out of their club meeting at lunch to show solidarity with people offended by Trump’s comments. However, the demonstration was not affiliated with Amnesty International, an nonpartisan organization.
At lunch, the six students held four different posters, each with a quote from Trump’s campaign that they saw as offensive to minority groups, according to junior Ines Schwartz, who participated in the protest. Poster topics included Trump’s degradation of women, his comments towards immigrants and his denial of climate change and environmental policy.
“We were not saying that he is a bad person, but we wanted to show that we support the people who are offended but what he has said on the campaign trail,” said sophomore participant Lori Gerstenfeld. “People understand that Trump is going to be president, but a lot of people don’t want a president who is against gay people or a president who thinks that people with disabilities or women are less.”
The bottom of each poster had a sign that said “Hug me if you stand in solidarity with” followed by the different minority groups.
Standing blindfolded with their arms stretched out, Schwartz and sophomore Sam Mayerhofer gave out hugs to those who approached them.
“We were blindfolded because it shows that we don’t care who is watching and there is no judgement,” Schwartz said. “We were vulnerable and open to everybody.”
According to Gerstenfeld, by being blindfolded, the demonstrators showed that they are willing to give support to anyone, regardless of who they are or what their background is.
“It’s part of the no judgement thing. You don’t know who is going to be hugging you, and sometimes they don’t know who you are because of the blindfold,” Gerstenfeld said.
Reactions to the posters and hug activity varied among students and some students asked whether there was any purpose to the demonstration, according to senior Andrea Silvera, one of the six lunchtime protesters.
“There were some people who genuinely showed support. They came up and were willing to sign the posters. But there were other people who saw the posters and just laughed,” Silvera said. “I understand that people have their own political points of view but I don’t necessarily like the response. It was just a bit unsympathetic on their part.”
The six students decided to do the lunchtime demonstration to inspire empathy at Redwood without disrupting class-time learning.
“Before we take a protest to the larger Marin community, we first wanted to raise awareness within our local community,” Silvera said. “By creating awareness, we hoped to inspire more people join in our cause and take action.”