Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the Rhode Island State House to express their dissent about Donald Trump’s presidency on Wednesday evening. Protesters in Providence joined thousands of people demonstrating across the country, particularly in cities with large Democratic bases.
One of the event organizers Josh Kilby, a Olneyville nursing home worker and drag queen, said the event was organized over social media.
“I think a lot of us need an emotional release today, and I hope out of this comes future organizing,” Kilby said.
“What I learned from the Bush years is when you find yourself at odds with the person at the helm of state power, you have to organize your side at every turn, and I think that organizing needs to start today.”
Pawtucket resident Paula Mckenna said she attended Wednesday’s rally to stand up for her high school math students. She said many of her students are Latino, and feel directly impacted by Trump’s rhetoric about deported undocumented people.
“I felt like I was going to work in a state of mourning. I was at loss of what to say to comfort them,” Mckenna said.
“I think today was a difficult day because I felt as the adult that I should have been in a position to comfort them, and yet I had no words.”
People of different ages, races, and ethnicities attended the rally, but many people were young and white. The event’s mood was both somber, and full of chants expressing anger, and calls for love and unity. A range of allegiances to different political candidates and movements were expressed.
While some attendees held signs reading “I’m Still With Her,” other Rhode Islanders expressed support for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, or Bernie Sanders. Many spoke out against corruption in the Democratic Party, detailed in the WikiLeaks’ email releases.
Kilby said that Trump’s presidency may serve as a wake-up call to elites in the United States and the Democratic Party.
“I think they underestimated the level of discontent in the status quo,” Kilby said.
Kilby said that the left in the United States needs to rebuild and unify, especially since Trump has been successful in gaining support from white voters who feel disenfranchised.
With additional reporting by Anna Croley.