Anti-Trump protests: "I thought of setting myself on fire"

Article published on Nov. 18, 2016
Article published on Nov. 18, 2016

Since Donald Trump's election protests have sprung up across America, including New York City, where protesters are rallying and chanting against the new President on his own doorstep.

Jack, a teenager from the Bronx, carries a sign that says "Not my president! Go to hell fast." Four days after Donald J. Trump was elected the new President of the United States of America, the young man was one of the many who marched through down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue alongside dozens of New Yorkers who refuse to accept their new president. As they headed towards Trump Tower some chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA!”

More than a week later, social media groups and events are being created and used as the engine that ignites the rallies. The anti-Trump protests attract hundreds of angry, afraid and upset participants who don't plan on stopping and promise to wage war on the new president on his own doorstep.

"People need to understand how serious and horrible this was for so many Americans," says Jack. Even though he is a teenager, he has a long career of activism on his curriculum, protesting queer issues and Black Lives Matter. He sees Trump as unfit for the role and has now turned his focus towards the new President.

Willa Cowan-Essig was the planner and coordinator for one of the protests scheduled for today (18 November). Like many others, she didn't take the election results well. So she turned to Facebook to help gather as many people as possible.

"I even thought about setting myself on fire," she said. In the end, she decided she would "be shot by police" before she could spread any message so, instead, Willa and other activists plan to go nude to draw attention to themselves.

"My mom said she would bail me out if I got arrested, but she said I should make sure I had others with me so that I wouldn't get thrown in a mental institution," she added.

Willa, a freelance photographer and children's play-center worker, is one of many New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet. "Too many people are suffering from the way things are now. No one should feel afraid for their lives or livelihood, and most people do," she argues. With Trump's election, she believes, things turn even worse for everyone. She says that "even white men will suffer with lack of health care and education and even wealthy white men will suffer when the economy does."

The native New Yorker fears that people have grown "complacent and lazy," quickly losing their focus. "I think both people and media have already normalized Trump. We've all become desensitized," she laments. However, she promises to continue protesting, in "different forms" in the future.

During his campaign, Trump promised to create a register of Muslims in the US, repeal Obamacare and build a wall on the US border with Mexico. He has also been accused of sexual assault by 13 women.

Anti-Trump protests have emerged  in major cities across America, such as the nation's capital of Washington DC, as well as MiamiAtlanta, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Phoenix and Dallas. Rallies and vigils have also taken place in college campuses and high school students have staged walk-outs as a means of protest.