More than 200 people gathered on a cold and windy Friday night at Harvey Milk Park in downtown Long Beach to protest President Donald Trump just hours after his inauguration.
The protesters chanted and marched their way to Promenade Square and were greeted with both honks of support and words of discouragement. One woman, after filming the protest with her phone, walked away saying, “He already won; you’re wasting your time.”
The May Day Long Beach Coalition, a self-described collective “of diverse Long Beach community organizations united by a belief in the power of the people,” led the rally. Organizations involved included Black Lives Matter, Papalotl Brown Berets, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and the Coalition for Good Jobs – all of which aim to promote rights for marginalized groups.
The protest’s objective: “To fight against all of these systems that oppress us so that when we go back to our communities we’re ready to fight, we’re ready to love, and we’re ready to build,” said event host and activist Alicia Morales.
The rally was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Harvey Milk Park and end at Promenade Square with the organization’s own security in yellow vests helping stop traffic.
Chants such as “No justice no peace, no racist police,” “Say it loud say it clear, working class are welcome here” and “Si se puede” were used to pump up the crowd as protesters waited patiently to begin their march. Attendees were encouraged by Morales to hashtag the phrases “Dump Trump,” “LB Against Trump,” and “MayDay LB” on social media.
The rally began with stories shared by members of the community about their fear of a Trump presidency. A member of the Every Student Matters campaign, which aims at supporting students in the Long Beach Unified School District, and the LGBT community expressed fear for his right to marry and acceptance in society. A member from Papalotl Brown Berets shared a poem she had written about the “new world” being a “queer, brown woman with broken English” in her eyes.
“There are policies and practices in place in our cities and in our school boards and in our commissions that affects all of us,” Audrena Redmond, a Black Lives Matter member, said. “We have to stay involved in all of that.”
Once at Promenade Square, the participants gathered in a circle as speakers said some final words of encouragement to stay involved in protesting Trump’s policies.
Morales stated that in her field of work, she has the opportunity to listen to others’ stories regarding discrimination.
“I’m an organizer with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, so my work is to promote rights for undocumented immigrants and we’ve been getting calls from folks who are afraid and phone calls from people wanting to deport other people,” she said. “We’ve seen some nastiness since the election and that’s why it’s that much more important. It’s not something that is fictional, it’s something that is real.”