2016 election presidential election

Chicago Protests: Elle's Journey

Wednesday, November 23, 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 Piotr's story. 

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

As an AFAB trans-spectrum rape survivor who is also not heterosexual and has chronic health issues, I cannot stand by and watch this happen without speaking out. Even aside from the actual (very dangerous) policies that a Trump/Pence presidency will put into place, the atmosphere of normalizing hatred and bigotry makes me fear for my safety as well as the safety of everyone else in minority communities. Normalizing and validating hatred and bigotry is a horrifying political strategy.

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

I have had a good experience at most of the protests. The biggest issue I've noticed is that some of the protests lacked organization, as well as there has been some silencing of queer voices and more radical viewpoints. I believe that all voices are important. I do not condone wanton violence, but I also do not think that preventing protesters from expressing their discontent with stronger language or action is appropriate.

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

While I cannot comment on anyone else's reasons for protesting, I know that I am not out every night because my candidate lost. I go out because I cannot stay silent and watch my rights as well as the rights of other minority groups be stripped away. I cannot, in good conscience, stay silent. I think that many of the other people protesting feel similarly. While we all wish the election had not ended this way, we are aware of this being the current reality. That doesn't mean we should just sit down and accept our rights and safety being stripped away piece by piece.

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

Again, I cannot speak for everyone. My personal opinion is that we, as younger people, are scared of what the future will hold for ourselves and future generations. I see this presidency as moving us backward instead of moving us forward. I fear for our environment, our people, and our world. I truly didn't believe this would happen, that there was this much hatred and bigotry in this country, but this election has forced me to open my eyes. This system is broken and our people are not safe. Staying silent, not taking a side, is siding with the oppressor.

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

I think that we need to have frank discussion on what does not work in our current political system. The system is broken. I do not think our country can continue this way, with a two-party system that seems to only be creating further division. I think that we need to value each other, not put any one group of people above the others. We need to support each other and protect each other in these dangerous times, but we also need to change this system in order to prevent this from happening again.
6. What message do you hope the protests will send our government?

I hope that the government will see that we are not interested in giving up our rights without a fight. People’s lives are not things to be used as rhetoric. Every person living in this country has rights. Regardless of immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs, we all matter, we are all people, and campaigning on a platform of making minorities out to be less-than is unacceptable.

7. What are your thoughts on the idea that some feel that this election has been another way to push the divide and conquer ideal to keep Americans from really pinpointing where the real issues are in terms of our government (corruption at the highest levels?)  

I personally feel that our system of governance is broken. This election has furthered a divide amongst the people of our country, but I don't believe another election is going to fix it. This is a larger issue than one election. We need to take a serious look at how our country has come to this point. We have elected a fascist president whose rhetoric and plans will not help our people.

8. What are people doing to continue to organize and to combat the current corruption, issues and problems facing our government? 

Many alternative-party political organizations have been at the protests, handing out leaflets and information on their parties and platforms. Taking these pieces of information and truly reading them and researching them could be very beneficial to how we choose to move forward as citizens of this country.

9. What are your hopes for the future & what can we do to heal?

I truly hope that the system that has created this current political situation can be changed. I do not think this system is working for anyone aside from the cishet, Christian, white upper-class. We need to reach a place where we are all seen as equals, and the government does not only benefit the few, but benefits all.

Check out the photo gallery here.

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