by Daniel Cuevas
An estimated 300 people converged in front of City Hall in Manchester this Saturday to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in last week’s presidential election. The gathering mirrors similar public demonstrations in cities across the U.S. that have taken place over the last several days.
The Manchester rally was launched by area resident Mary-Clare Auger, who had voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Like many Clinton supporters, she was upset that President-elect Trump had been allocated more electoral votes than Clinton despite the former Secretary of State having received more popular votes. “I just wanted people to know that they weren’t alone in their dissatisfaction with how the election ended,” said Auger.
Her friend, Lauren Boisvert, helped organize the event, spreading word about the event via social media to other local Clinton supporters. There has been some public concern in other cities that these anti-Trump rallies may turn violent, but Auger and Boisvert insisted that anyone looking to incite violence was not welcome there.
Various security measures had been set up in advance by the organizers, such as prior coordination with the Manchester Police Department, who sent five officers to the protest. A handful of attendees had volunteered to act as security, identifying themselves with white armbands. By 5pm, the crowd of protesters had swelled to over 300 people. Attendees held signs and recited chants like, “I reject the President-elect!”, “Love trumps hate!” and “No KKK, no racist USA, no Trump!”
Multiple protesters expressed their frustration with the outcome of the election, some suggesting that the U.S. scrap the electoral college altogether. “The popular vote should be the only vote that counts,” said Madison Russo. “This is supposed to be a democracy.” Dan Johnson explained that he had joined the protest in solidarity with people of color, women, immigrants and other groups he saw as being marginalized by Trump’s policies and behavior on the campaign trail. “I am not disputing the election results,” he said, “I just don’t want this kind of bigotry to become normalized, and I want the marginalized groups who may be feeling unsafe right now to know that there are millions of people who will stand with them.”
Across the street, counter-protesters only numbered roughly a dozen. John Camden held a large Culpeper Minutemen flag, a variation of the more familiar Gadsden flag. The Virginia-based Culpeper Minutemen was formed in 1775 and fought against British forces in the Revolutionary War and was formed again in 1860 to fight for the Confederate States of America. “I’m here to support the 45th President of the United States,” explained Camden. “Those people are here because their candidate didn’t win,” he said, referring to the protesters.
Robert Vee, another counter-protester, argued with a protester who had crossed the street. “The sky’s not going to fall just because Trump was elected,” said Vee, who added that he respected the protesters’ freedom of assembly and speech, but that they need to voice a legitimate concern, not spread what he described as “hysteria”. “They act like every white guy is going to go around raping women and dragging black men through the streets now that Trump has been elected. People freaked out, too, when Obama was elected twice, but nothing happened.”
Jack Smith described the protesters as being “butt hurt” over the election results. “Legally, there’s nothing they can do to change the election,” he said. “Hillary lost because she sold out our nation. I’d rather have a President who has said mean things than a President who has done mean things. I didn’t like Obama’s policies or demeanor, but I wasn’t protesting in the streets. I love America, and I’m sure those people do, too.”