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#TrumpProtests San Francisco
Photography by Alex Tieghi-Walker

Donald Trump’s election sparks protests across the US

Thousands of Americans took to the streets last night to demonstrate against the Republican’s presidential win

Last night, tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest against Donald Trump’s shock presidential win. Residents of the country’s biggest cities – including Nashville, Cleveland, San Francisco and Seattle – vented their frustrations about an uncertain future with the Republican. There were chants, candlelight vigils, and even a flaming effigy of Trump’s head. In New York and Chicago, protesters blockaded the businessman’s Trump Towers. “No racist USA, no Trump, no KKK,” they shouted defiantly. “Don't give in to racist fear, Muslims are welcome here.”

Here, Alex Tieghi-Walker – a San Francisco resident who took part in one of these marches – shares his story.

I’ve never been to a march where protesters and police connected in quite the same way. The last batch of marches (around the time of BLM and police brutality focus) had a definite tone of protester vs. police. Tonight, however, it was different. I saw some police chant with protesters; I saw protesters fist-bumping police. When everyone started heading home you could hear individual marchers thank the police for keeping them safe.

I bought 30 or so bananas which I kept in my backpack and gave to protesters to thank them for letting me take their photos, and also just for energy and vibes. The team at the frontline marched for 5 hours solid. What was kind of amazing was that in front of the march, a group of skaters took advantage of street closures, and in a way ‘led’ the march and acted as a friendly buffer between protesters and police. 

“I saw some police chant with protesters; I saw protesters fist-bumping police. When everyone started heading home you could hear individual marchers thank the police for keeping them safe” – Alexander Tieghi-Walker

The protesters chanted in equal parts Spanish and English. “Whose streets? Our streets!” “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” “El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” (“The people united will never be defeated”) — a chant specific to San Francisco, used during the White Night Riots (after the sentencing of Dan White, the assassinator of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone).

Harvey Milk’s name was brought up many times over the megaphone; he’s the historic poster boy of marches in San Francisco, who taught this community that shouting, singing, marching together creates a powerful voice and brings a group of people together. He taught us that marches are cathartic, and necessary in uniting grief and formulating the next steps of progress. Indeed, the San Francisco community is, in some respects, one of the tightest urban communities I’ve ever encountered. Marches have their own choreography here, people know their paces. At times, groups of motorcyclists would rev their engines in time to the chants. Cars waiting at cross streets for the demonstration to pass would honk, flash lights and wave with the crowd. 

The march through the Mission neighborhood was significant — this is the highest concentration of San Francisco's Latin American population, and the chant declared an openness—solidarity—with this huge community, who will no doubt feel very uncertain about their place in Trump’s America. The kitchen and waiting staff of the restaurants came outside to join the chants (in Spanish) from the curbside.

“The result of the election is unthinkable, and I won’t rest until Trump is out of office,” one protester told me. “Now we all have to come together and express our thoughts. Voting is apparently not enough. People need to be on these streets, protesting and resisting. It’s time that we changed how the government works. There are so many things I hate about Trump: the sexism, the way he assaults women and has bragged about it, his racist sentiment, his anti-gay rhetoric. He makes fun of disabled people.”

In the most San Francisco of San Franciscan protests, a topless woman with ‘NO TO TRUMP’ written across her chest climbed up a traffic light, led a few chants then climbed down. The air was also THICK with weed smoke (56 per cent of voters passed Proposition 64 last night, making recreational Marijuana legal—Californians can now plop one ounce of weed in their handbags and walk around in the world smoking it with no fear of arrest). I legit saw old women blazing up with a bong in one hand, and a defaced American flag in the other.

“Go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and out when and where the protests are happening,” urged another demonstrator. “If you can’t find a protest on the internet, then make sign and show up outside your city hall; just get out there and make everyone you know get out there. Make your voice heard.”

The main news broken at the protest tonight is that they plan to stage the biggest of marches in DC on January 20 (Inauguration day). They will be shooting for one million protesters. I’m going to be there.