Video by Katie Mahaffey | Broadcast Reporter and story by Kalyn Story | Staff Writer
Baylor students took to Fountain Mall on Thursday evening to protest Donald Trump being elected president and to stand or sit in solidarity with those negatively affected by the election results.
“TONIGHT @ 5 students are occupying FOUNTAIN MALL,” Sierra Smith, an admin of the Baylor Feminists Facebook page, posted Thursday around noon. “This is not a group or organization affiliated event. This is in support of all those affected by Trump’s rhetoric and those who fear what’s to come. I have received support from faculty, they say there are more of them on our side than we know. He is not my president. I will not be silenced. We can make a difference!”
Students opposing Trump met at Fountain Mall with posters and markers and began making signs with slogans like “Not my President,” “Try some racist s—,” “Love Trumps Hate,” “White Supremacy Won” and many other phrases.
A few minutes after 5 p.m., several Trump supporters showed up on Fountain Mall with “Trump for President” and “Make America Great Again” signs. A clear line was drawn with anti-Trump protesters on one side and Trump supporters on the other. Several neutral spectators also gathered to watch the protesters.
A discussion also emerged between the two groups, with one or two representatives at a time going to the middle to speak to the other side.
DeSoto senior Mark Toliver was one anti-Trump protester who braved no-man’s land to speak to the other side and share his opinions.
“I’m not here to educate anyone,” Toliver said. “I am here to share and express my concern with racism and sexism. I want to let every racist, bigot and misogynist at Baylor know that hate is not welcome at Baylor University.”
Toliver said he wanted to speak with the Trump supporters because he believes they don’t understand how minorities feel, and he wanted to give them another perspective to look at.
“America was not built on hate,” Toliver said. “I think these Trump supporters really don’t know what it is like to be a minority in any situation. They aren’t discriminated against. I want to share my experiences and feelings.”
Toliver said the only thing to do now is to make the liberal opinion heard by voting in local elections, trying to have Democrats control the House and Senate in 2018 and having a louder voice in 2020.
“Trump ran a campaign of fear, lies and hate,” Toliver said. “None of those things can be tolerated. We have to show America that next time.”
Omaha, Neb., freshman Nate Lindquist and Normal, Ill., freshman Andrew Ensenberger heard about the protest on Facebook and decided that, even though they don’t support either cause, they wanted to watch the protest.
“I think it’s funny that they’re protesting democracy,” Lindquist said. “These signs say ‘not my president,’” but that’s stupid because if you are an American citizen, he is your president whether you like it or not.”
Ensenberger said he tried to go to the other side and talk to the anti-Trump protesters about their beliefs, but no one would respond to him.
“They wouldn’t look me in the eye or shake my hand,” Ensenberger said. “I think it’s very interesting, and I want to hear what they have to say. I don’t agree with them, but I absolutely support their right to protest and them exercising their First Amendment rights, I just wish they would talk to me about their beliefs.”
Georgetown junior Audrey Hamlin said that as a survivor of interpersonal violence, she believes this election affects her directly, and she wants to stand with those who support her and other marginalized groups.
“As a survivor, I need support right now,” Hamlin said. “I also want to show people what love looks like. Love is an action, and today it looks like standing with those saddened by the state of our country.”
Hamlin said she hopes the protest on campus raises awareness about the effects of Trump’s words and actions.
“He has hurt so many people,” Hamlin said. “I hope every marginalized group knows they have support at Baylor and they matter.”