When it was announced last Friday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would be making a campaign stop Tuesday afternoon at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse, a group of students decided they wanted to organize a silent protest as a rebuttal against various comments and positions Trump has taken, particularly concerning Latinos and immigration. A group of over 60 protesters lined up across the road from where rally attendees stood while waiting to enter the building.
With only a few days to prepare for their protest, the students along with other members of the community, started a social media campaign as a means of organizing like-minded folks to oppose Trump’s visit to Marshalltown. At the helm of the operation were Fatima Hernandez, Joaquin Ramirez and Leslie Garcia. Despite receiving messages and posts of a threatening or violent nature, the protesters forged ahead with their plans.
“I believe this is a town that has always had unity and acceptance of people of color,” said protester Jacqueline Guevara. “It is so disappointing to see faces I recognize on the other side [lining up to go inside the Trump rally.]”
Many protesters held signs; others merely stood side by side in solidarity. With police patrolling the area keeping people out of the street, the protesters and attendees remained separated, with no reports of any physical altercations between the two groups.
Protester Tania Fonseca said what made her want to participate in the demonstration was the fact that Trump was making his campaign stop at a public high school.
“It was not a good idea to have him here,” Fonseca said. “The event could have been hosted elsewhere. It is disappointing to me because my tax dollars go to support the school.”
Student protesters decided to wear blue arm ribbons to show the crowd they came to represent the younger population that opposes Trump.
“I disagree with most of what Donald Trump says,” said Jonathan Yepez, another protester. “Most of us [Latinos] who come here come to work and not cause problems.”
Due to the cold conditions, it was decided the protest would last for only a half hour — from 3:30-4 p.m., with Trump scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. As the protest came to an end, the participants began to recite in unison “a vote for Trump is a vote for hate,” whereupon they traveled single file down the sidewalk, and turned right down the street, heading for the “Channeling Your Energy” event held at the Midnight Ballroom a block away.
Hosted by the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) and Immigrant Allies, the event was presented as an alternative to Trump’s rally and a way to offer what the coordinators deemed a “proactive response” to the candidate’s visit.
The event, open to the public and non-partisan, was designed to give people the chance to learn more about the Caucus process, how to register to vote and educate themselves about the presidential candidates. Speakers from several political campaigns, including those representing Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush offered information on the candidates. Local immigrant and Latino organizations were in attendance.
“I’m really glad we got to empower the students to take the anger and frustration and channel it into further civic engagement,” said Joa LaVille, president of Immigrant Allies.
“We got hate and love about this,” Garcia said. “We decided to delete negative Facebook messages or reply to them with a positive comment because hate just brings more hate.”
—– Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TOP PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Courtesy of the Times Republican.
A group of over 60 demonstrators held a silent protest outside the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse Tuesday afternoon to show opposition of Donald Trump, who held a presidential rally inside.