By Demian Lucas, Jason Susim, and Alanna Madden
The evening of Nov. 8 marked the end of the 2016 presidential elections and the outcome was an upset to many, spurring a weeklong series of protests.
Republican nominee Donald Trump began his campaign for presidency in June 2016, leading what Portland State President Wim Wiewel called a “vitriolic campaign.”
Mainstream media outlets touted for months that long-standing politician and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was guaranteed the victory. According to the New York Times, Clinton was projected to win the election with 85 percent accuracy. In the final hours of the election, the American public saw these projections were wrong.
A large crowd of Portland State students and local residents immediately gathered near Smith Memorial Student Center to express their fear, anger, and sorrow. Chants such as, “Fuck Donald Trump,” could be heard blocks away.
PSU Campus Public Safety Chief Phillip Zerzan confirmed that anti-Trump protests occurred on both Tuesday and Wednesday night, assuring there were no complaints or formal actions taken by the PSU Public Safety Team.
When describing the events of Tuesday night, Zerzan acknowledged that a protest occurred “on the edge of campus, and then went all over.” Meanwhile, an even larger group of frustrated Portland citizens gathered to protest downtown.
The PSU community was not unique in its reaction to the news. Protests were held on Tuesday and Wednesday night in other cities such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and several others.
Thursday, Nov. 10 marked the third consecutive night of protesting. The protest, referred to as #NotMyPresident, began at Pioneer Courthouse Square where speakers from several local activist groups spoke out against the Trump presidency.
Gregory McKelvey, a spokesperson for Don’t Shoot Portland, has announced the formation of a new organization called Portland’s Resistance. McKelvey addressed the large crowd about the marching that would take place.
“Our group does not condone violence, vandalism or destruction in any way,” McKelvey said. “However, it is not our job to censor anyone’s activism. If we do that, we might as well call the police ourselves. Our job is to lead by example, and that example will be peace.”
Once the march began the crowd departed from Pioneer Square and made its way to the waterfront, where the protesters joined a rally advocating for LGBTQ rights. It was there that McKelvey stated the group’s demands of the city of Portland.
The issues included police accountability, rent control, and an end to no-cause evictions.
“We are Portland’s Resistance and we will continue to be a resistance so that Portland can be a beacon of light in what is now a very dark country,” McKelvey said.
The protest marched east and overtook the Hawthorne Bridge, where traffic was stopped before heading north on SE Grand. Here, organizers called for a moment of silence in solidarity with Michael Brown, who in August 2014 was fatally shot by police and left dead on the ground for four-and-a-half hours.
When the march commenced, dozens of different chants could be heard at any given time. The crowd voiced their resistance to a Trump presidency proclaiming, “We reject the president elect,” or “My body, my choice.” The consensus of the crowd was that Trump does not represent them and that his ideologies are hateful.
Angelita Morillo is a Portland State student studying political science and legal studies. She joined #NotMyPresident to express her frustrations with the election process.
Morillo believes the Electoral College to be an outdated practice that consistently differs from the popular vote and doesn’t accurately represent the votes of the people.
“I think that it definitely illegitimates the need to vote,” Morillo said. “People don’t feel like they need to because it doesn’t actually turn out the way that we want it to.”
The protest grew even larger once it made its way to Holladay Park at the Lloyd Center where it merged with another group, the Anarchist Black Cross.
An Anarchist Black Cross member told the crowd, “We are not just about destruction, but about bringing power to the people.”
The crowd grew in numbers but was still peaceful as protesters from Portland’s Resistance and the Anarchist Black Cross made their way across the Broadway Bridge.
Once in the Pearl District things quickly became destructive. At this point the protest split. McKelvey encouraged protesters to stay peaceful, and they headed back to Pioneer Square.
“Debriefing at 10 at Pioneer Courthouse Square. This is a peaceful meeting, all our actions are. Police are moving in on violent protesters,” #PDXResistance posted on their Twitter at 9:46 p.m.
The branch of protesters who moved to the Pearl smashed storefront windows; trash cans and newspaper stands were set on fire, and a number of car windows were bashed.
Many of those from the original protest spoke out against the vandalism chanting, “Peaceful protest,” or “Smash the patriarchy, not the property.” Destruction continued.
The march was met by police forces at the intersection of Park Ave. and West Burnside. Police forces used flashbang grenades to steer the crowd up SW Broadway towards Pioneer Square.
Once at Pioneer, the crowd began to dwindle in numbers as many of the peaceful demonstrators had dispersed. By midnight most if not all of the peaceful protesters had gone home. The remaining protesters continued to set fires and hurl rocks and other objects toward the police line.
A police presence brandishing riot gear continued to grow as the Oregon State Police joined PPD. Police continued to use flashbang grenades in addition to tear gas and shooting rubber bullets.
Demonstrations resumed on Friday night throughout the city, attracting a variety of organized groups who spoke out against Trump’s presidency.
Portland’s Resistance organizers met at City Hall in order to introduce their cause and to discuss their goals instead of protesting. “When I got to the rally, nobody was marching and there wasn’t any cops there,” a PSU grad student recalls. “We were there to organize the group, to meet other people in our community, and understand what our concerns were collectively.”
“There was a group of people who insisted on marching, and so we organizers told them to go ahead—but that’s not what the rest of us were going to do. Soon after, an [unknown] group of protesters were marching nearby, and that’s when I could hear the police in riot gear arrive,” she said.
Protesters began chanting to police, “March with us!” and “Take off your riot gear! We don’t see no riots here!”
“A group of about 300 or more of us split from the holdup to march across the Burnside Bridge,” she said. “We were chanting, “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA.”
Eventually police blocked the march as they attempted to cross back over the Morrison Bridge. “We kept getting cornered, so I decided to go home,” she said. “I walked over the Hawthorne Bridge. That’s when I saw other protesting groups and a bunch of police activity.”
Later on, anti-Trump protesters eventually made it on to the Morrison Bridge. While marching across, an occupant of a blocked car shot and injured a protester before fleeing.
Portland Resistance publicly stated, “Sadly, people will defend this person being shot. This is what Trump’s America now looks like. It is never okay to use violence against someone exercising their first amendment rights.”
Protests persisted over the weekend and look as though they could continue with the months leading up to Inauguration Day. At least 143 protesters have been arrested in Portland since election night, with 71 arrested on Saturday, Nov. 12 alone. Protest groups are expected to continue their rallies on and off campus.
A group called Anyone’s Resistance is staging a rally at the park blocks on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at noon, following a planned PSU student walkout.
The group’s Facebook states, “On November 16th, we are calling on all students to join the movement to declare their campuses a #SanctuaryCampus and commit to putting our bodies between Trump and undocumented students.”