By Meghan Bobrowsky
DAVIS, Calif. — Classrooms emptied at 11:55 a.m on Thursday, Nov. 10, as students at Davis Senior High School filed into the quad to protest Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. Around 175 of the 1708 students, joined by some faculty members, held up signs and chanted phrases: “Love trumps hate,” “Not my president” and “My body, my choice.”
After the final school bell rang, the group marched to a park downtown, escorted by the Davis Police Department, which kept the streets clear and did not interfere with the event. Once downtown, students took turns sharing their opinions through a microphone and chanted in unison after every speaker.
Senior Emma Thomsen organized the event, starting with a Twitter poll on Wednesday evening in an attempt to unite the school. After 66 percent of the 310 voters said they would participate in a walkout against Trump, she decided it was the right thing to do. Thomsen met with one of the vice principals earlier this morning to discuss safety and then instructed students to leave class as quietly as possible.
“I wanted to show that young people are not going to sit silently and let hateful rhetoric dominate this country,” Thomsen said. “We will be just as affected by Trump’s policies the next four years as anyone else.”
Administration cleared the walkout, saying that there would be no consequences for students who participated peacefully. Davis Joint Unified School District Superintendent John Bowes justified the students’ decision to march.
“We recognize and respect a student’s rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, and appreciate the respectful way the student organizers contacted administrators in advance of today’s peaceful demonstration,” Bowes said, according to a video published on iSeeDavis.com.
Once at the park, senior Fox Conner, 17, stood on a bench to address the crowd.
“I’m gay [and] I’m here to show solidarity to my brothers and sisters,” he yelled. “We’re not coming here to be aggressive or violent towards anything. We’re here to come together as a community.”
Conner explained that the protest was not intended to fuel hatred toward Trump but instead to reassure fellow protesters that Americans will get through the next four years together.
“Express your culture. Express your identity. Express your sexuality,” Conner said. “Express your religion, because in the end, the thing that is going to help us get through this is us supporting one another and being ourselves more than we have before and being proud to just not be a part of that culture of hatred.”
Other speakers included a student with autism, a second-generation Mexican American and a student who had been sexually assaulted. All the speeches echoed the same message–love over hate.