Boston students take to streets, protest Trump admin.
Show support for immigrants, LGBTQ people, women
Hundreds of Boston students assembled on the Boston Common Monday in protest of Donald Trump’s election, demanding that Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker oppose the new administration’s education agenda and publicly declare support for immigrants, Muslims and others targeted by hate crimes.
The demonstrators, including students from BPS schools, charter schools and local colleges, rallied in front of the State House before marching to City Hall where they demanded to meet with Walsh.
The demonstration came as Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang urged students not to walk out of their classes. While at some schools administrators appeared to look the other way as students left, at other schools students faced consequences for the 1 p.m. walkout.
“When we left the building, they wrote our names down,” said a Roxbury Preparatory Charter School student, who gave the pseudonym Jasper Garcia.
“One teacher told me it was pointless, there was nothing we could do,” added fellow Roxbury Prep student Cassie Newton. “He’s already in office.”
But they said the walkout is worth the suspension.
“With this, we can have our voices heard,” Garcia commented. “If we all come together and take a stand, it can change things.”
“It is our duty to fight for freedom,” yelled the students amassed in front of the State House, chanting in unison. “It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
The students presented Baker and Walsh with a set of demands, including a calls for protection of public education against the privatization schemes of Trump’s pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, against school closings and budget cuts, for Massachusetts and Boston to serve as sanctuaries for immigrants and to denounce Trump’s connections to white supremacists and movements.
On the steps of the State House, high school and college student spoke out against sexual harassment and assault, immigrants spoke about the fear of deportation hanging over their families and others spoke about support for public education.
“As a queer woman and as a survivor of sexual assault, I find it infuriating that there’s a man in the White House who thinks that sexual assault is a joke,” said a recent high school graduate who gave her name as Jenny.
While the crowd rallied and chanted in front of the State House, a delegation of students brought the list of demands to Baker’s office.
By the time the students marched to City Hall at about 4 p.m., their ranks had thinned some, to about 100.
Boston Community Leadership Academy student Rishka Reid held a sign that read “Love Trumps Hate.” The child of Puerto Rican and Jamaican parents, Reid said she came out to show solidarity.
“Our city needs to know we have to keep people safe, whether it’s women or immigrants or the LGBTQ community,” she said. “We are one country.”
The demonstration was the third walkout students have staged this year. Twice last spring, students held midday demonstrations against proposed cuts to school budgets.
Excel High School student Gabriela Pereira said the demonstrations have helped embolden students to speak their minds.
“Our community has grown stronger,” she said. “I think we’ve built a youth-led movement in Boston.”
Pereira and other student organizers now gather weekly as part of the group Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation.
Once inside City Hall, students headed to the 5th floor to deliver their demands to Walsh. After being informed he was out of the office, students sat outside, chanting “Marty, where are you?” and took to Facebook and Twitter to urge the mayor to respond.
Although the students were not able to garner a response from Walsh, organizer Jhalen Williams said the demonstration was a success.
“We brought out a beautiful crowd,” he said. “This is a strong showing of resistance — people standing up for what is right. For equality.”