By Kyeland Jackson —
With Donald Trump’s clinched win in the U.S. presidential election, waves of protest and controversy swathed the nation.
Hundreds of citizens, including U of L students, lined Louisville’s streets in protest Nov. 10. Protestors voices echoed through downtown Louisville, chanting “not our president” and “black lives matter” as they marched with picket signs and American flags. For U of L sophomore Leo Salinas, the protest was personal.
“I’m an undocumented immigrant so you know, that’s one of the main things that Trump ran on: deporting all the undocumented immigrants,” Salinas said. “I have to let out my emotions somehow, so this (protest) seemed like a really good idea. I think it’s just to show Donald Trump that we’re not going to take his crap. He’s not going to be allowed to just do the things he said he’s going to do.”
Theatre artist Carter Caldwell protested, saying a Trump presidency is scary for arts funding and minority communities.
“I’m just out to stand up for all the people that need to be to be stood up for right now,” Caldwell said. “I’m very worried about my friends of color, I’m very worried about my queer friends and I feel compelled to come out and speak for them because I’m very scared of what a Trump presidency could mean for them, and that’s why I’m out here today.”
Sophomore Nuri Thompson said the protest empowered him to express his thoughts against Trump’s platform.
“Seeing the president-elect and seeing the platform that he stands for, I personally felt like it was my responsibility not only to make my voice known in the ballots but also make my voice known in the streets, to express my distaste for the blatant racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination that have essentially plagued the platform since the beginning,” Thompson said. “And I want to express my distaste for how that has infiltrated not only the White House, but the entire government as a whole.”
Louisville’s protest echoed nation-wide protests against election results. Some protests turned violent, prompting police enforcement. Senator Mitch McConnell spoke on Louisville’s protests during a Friday news conference on campus.
“Going back to the beginning of this country, we’ve had pretty open ability to complain about whatever you want to. It’s about as American as apple pie,” McConnell said. “People are free to express themselves and I don’t think we ought to be unduly alarmed by it.”
Election results sparked controversy across Louisville as well as U of L.
University cheerleader Brynn Baker was suspended from the team after controversial tweets during election night. Baker tweeted, “You all want sympathy so bad lmaooooo stfu about racism, sexism, whateverism. Literally just stfu and find the $ to leave America then.”
Criticism of the tweets prompted Baker to respond with another tweet: “You’re so pressed for nothing lmao. You act like you came off a boat.”
Head spirit coach Todd Sharp said Baker’s comments do not represent the cheerleading program, and said others possibly connected are being investigated.
After Trump’s victory, U of L’s thinker statue was defaced with chalk reading “Trump #buildthatwall.” The university responded quickly, as U of L law students cleaned the statue and Acting Provost Dale Billingsley issued a statement.
“As the campus and the nation move ahead, we must remain committed to the diversity, including diversity of opinion, at the core of the University of Louisville,” Billingsley’s statement said. “We have a long history of respecting, appreciating and celebrating our differences, but we will not condone vandalism, harassment, intimidation or violence.”
U of L’s Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality responded to the vandalism, citing multiple awards and recognitions achieved by foreign-born american citizens.
“The university would not function without the diversity of ideas, which requires the diversity of our make-up,” CODRE’s statement said. “When we close the portal of ideas, we hurt the very essence of what it is to be a university a place where we critically think, research and analyze the human condition. How can that be done when we limit our scope to only humans from one place?”
Since his win, Trump has backed down from some claims, including a full repeal of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, made during his campaign.