The largest St. Louis-based anti-Donald Trump rally since his election to the presidency took place Sunday, downtown. Hundreds of people marched from City Garden through to the steps of the St. Louis Justice Center, 200 S. Tucker Blvd., across the street from City Hall.
The march began with 22-year-old Basel Isa’s Facebook post to protest Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. Isa said he wasn’t previously politically active but felt compelled to become more involved after the election's result.
“I want this to show the world that we’re not okay with this, we’re going to exercise our rights, and we’re going to get active,” said Isa. “Stand up for people that aren’t brave enough. We love and that’s what’s most important.”
Marchers throughout the late afternoon and early evening expressed concerns over the Trump campaign and fears over his expected policy decisions. Many cited racist, homophobic, anti-immigration and misogynistic language used during the campaign as cause for joining the protest and voicing their opposition to his election.
Frequent chants included “We reject the President Elect” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
Some protesters said they were looking to find other people who felt alone and alienated by the election results. Others said they’d gathered to speak out against Trump’s ideas before they were implemented as policy, hoping to affect the future decisions of other elected leaders and policymakers.
Many expressed anxiety regarding Trump’s decisions as president. Alona Sistrunk said the protest wasn’t just “born out of sour grapes.”
“People are genuinely terrified about how we move forward as a country,” said Sistrunk. “People are legitimately terrified about having their families ripped apart. And not to mention the economy, we just came out of a recession and we have someone that wants to take us back to the same failed economic policies that got us here in the first place.”
During part of the march, one protester was detained and placed in the back of a police SUV. Other marchers sat down in the street and refused to move, demanding he be released. After several conversations between police and marchers, the protester was released.
After more than an hour of marching through downtown, protesters stopped outside the St. Louis Justice Center. There, they held an open-mic period. Speakers shared personal stories and explained how they fear they, their family and their friends might be affected by Trump’s presidency. Several speakers connected the march back to their experiences with the movement for black lives and protests that have taken place in the region since Michael Brown Jr. was killed in Ferguson in August 2014.
As the protest dwindled, people arrived with drums and many resumed marching through the downtown area, pausing outside the Hard Rock Café at Union Station.
The protest concluded with a 4.5-minute die-in in honor of Brown at the intersection of 18th and Market streets. Speakers repeated Brown’s name and the names of several others who’ve died at the hands of police, including VonDerrit Myers Jr. and Eric Garner. Drawing on the tactics employed during local anti-police brutality actions possibly made Sunday's march and rally in St. Louis unique among protests of Trump across the nation this weekend.
The remaining protesters stressed that although the protest was a first for many people, others have been protesting for years. Activist Alicia Street thanked people for showing up and encouraged people to continue protesting.
“Thank you for joining us today. Y’all showed up and showed out. Y’all really did,” she said. “But I’m going to say this: Two years ago when I needed y’all, y’all weren’t there. But keep showing up, cause y’all here now. Don’t let it stop now.”
Protests were held earlier in the week outside the Old Courthouse, at Saint Louis University, Washington University and the Delmar Loop.