2016 election presidential election

Chicago Protest: Heather's Journey

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Jen Lezan

We asked 5 protestors about their journey to the Michigan Ave. protests in Chicago. We wanted to showcase their journey, their experiences and why they were involved. Here's Heather's story. 

Photography by: Perry Fish

1. Why did you decide to attend the protests in Chicago?

My coworker (and friend) Dustin Kloeppel was the one to create the facebook group for the protest and I was one of the first dozen or so to respond that I was going. He invited his friends but made the event public. I was thinking it would be a small group of maybe 50 people max and we would meet up and chant and march around Chicago. By the end of the first day he created the group there were 2,000 people attending. I was worried because I have a 4 year old daughter and I had planned to take her with me. In the end I decided to go anyway because I feel so strongly about the cause and Dustin was making a big deal about the protest being non-violent.

2. What was your experience like and what was the overall atmosphere?

My experience was very positive. I stopped at the store on my way and bought a case of water to hand out because I wanted to feel like I was being helpful. I had the water in my daughter's stroller so that was her incentive to help me hand them out. We had a sign that she was holding that said "HATE WON'T MAKE US GREAT". I had her on my shoulders while we were at Millennium Park initially before the marching started and a lot of people were high fiving her and taking her picture. The environment felt very loving and positive. Some people were there for slightly different reasons but as a whole we wanted the same thing. Chanting with all these different people just felt so empowering.

3. What are your thoughts on the fact that many people consider these protests "whining" or
people being upset that they "lost"?

The people that are saying we're whining are hypocrites. There are countless images of protests when Obama was elected and 90% of their signs or chanting had nothing to do with his political experience or his policies, the main focus was the color of his skin. I was not protesting the color of Trump's skin (although he is really should lay off the fake tanner). For me personally I wouldn't exactly say that I am protesting Trump himself, more that I am protesting the platform he created during his campaign. He as a person disgusts me even if only half of what is said about him is true. But my main issue is the hatred he spread. His comments about Mexicans, Muslims, the LBTQ+ community, POC, disabled people, and women were all sickening. And he was cheered for them! Now that he is elected those people that were cheering him think that they won and their xenophobia is now public policy. 

The countless stories that have been all over Facebook and Twitter about minority groups being told that they need to pack their bags, or prepare to be lynched, or Muslim woman having their hijabs ripped from their heads, all these stories just show what his words created. I went to this protest because I want these minorities to understand that I stand with them and they are not alone and I will do whatever I can to defend them. And for the first time in my life this election has made me feel like I'm a minority. I grew up fairly privileged. Upper middle class and white. Now I am a working class young single mom. My life stands to change under Trump's presidency. His tax proposal includes taking away the ability to file as "Head of Household" which will make a huge difference to how much money I will have after I pay my taxes. I am currently on Medicare and I worry about what my health insurance will look like after he goes mucking around in there. I am hearing good things that now that he is officially elected he has been talking about having more moderate policies than the Republicans have been wanting, but that doesn't take away the hate that he created towards minorities.

4. Why is the youth generation so upset about the outcome of this election?

I guess technically I am a 'youth' being 23, but I do have a child and have been living on my own without any financial help from family for 6 years now and have a 401K and a will and zero debt so I don't fall into the "dying from student loans" and either living with my parents or struggling to afford a studio with 2 roommates even though I have a degree from a four year university that I feel is what defines the current youth generation. 

Not that I am without sympathy for those people because I really do. I feel that a lot of the upset is caused because we have been told that we do outnumber the baby boomer generation. So we feel that they made some really crappy decisions for our country and we have been suffering the consequences and now that we can vote we can take that control. And we did go out and vote and we as a generate almost country wide chose Hilary. But we still lost. I hate using the word 'unfair' because I hear my father saying "Well life isn't fair" but this is our country now and I wish that we could make the decisions for our future.

5. What do you think we can do to begin to come together as a nation?

I think something that would be great would be to hear from Trump specifically apologizing for is past comments and condemning his supporters for their recent actions. Unfortunately I don't see his ego as allowing it.

Check out the photo gallery here.

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