As Trump declares war on anything he deems threatening with the announcement of the second Muslim Ban, I realise how fortunate I am to be studying in San Francisco for this year. San Francisco is a liberal bubble, with a rich history in LGBT rights led by Harvey Milk, and it’s this past that helps it lead the way forward in America. Considering San Francisco voted 85.5% Democrat in the 2016 General Election, it comes as no surprise that when Trump was announced president there was outrage. The people of the city, however, chose to show this not through violence but instead by organising a march against this outrageous president.
The first protest took placethe day after Trump’s shock win on November 7th and through the use of social media thousands quickly said they would attend the march which went on through the streets of San Francisco. From Embarcadero to Castro, people joined and cheered on this protest to Trump and I was lucky enough to be among the thousands marching down the streets. Despite the fact that, being from England originally, Trump wasn’t my President, I still joined in on the chants of ‘Not my President’ among the many other inspiring and uniting chants which included ‘The people united, will never be divided’ and ‘Her body, her choice.’
It wasn’t just the crowd that was protesting: the onlookers and people who lined the street watching, were cheering us on, children in windows waving at us, and we responded with applause to all those who were still a part of the march through showing up or taking the time to acknowledge it. Among all the cheering there was a sudden screeching noise, almost like a guitar being blasted out on an amp. As we approached the deafening sound with slight trepidation we saw what it was. There was a group of bikers who were on the sidewalk revving their bikes up in support of the protesters. The reveal of seeing this group of bikers supporting us was one of the most uplifting and memorable moments of my time in San Francisco and it still gives me goosebumps thinking about it today. This simple action explains in a nutshell why San Francisco is great — it brings the most unlikely groups together as they fight together as one against this tyrannical administration and the injustice it’s created.
The second protest was the day after Trump’s inauguration and, in a city that experiences drought and where it very rarely rains, naturally it rained that day. Families, students and all sorts were gathered around City Hall to begin the march, and as soon as the wave began to move forwards the rain came down full force. However, this didn’t deter the thousands who turned up, who embraced the rain with cheers and shouts of ‘Not my President!’ The atmosphere was a different kind to the angry and passionate one after the shock of Trump’s election: it was one of unity and defiance but also a tinge of acceptance. Being in the middle of such a united and compassionate crowd was an incredible experience and it felt like, although Trump was president, there was hope and a chance to fight back as a multitude.
When Trump announced the first Muslim Ban this also triggered a protest from San Francisco, a city famous for its diverse and unique population from all over the world. As a place which openly welcomes immigrants, thousands turned up again to prove that Trump couldn’t discriminate against any country, religion or race. Many of the people who would be affected by Trump’s discrimination talked in front of City Hall about their diversity, many being second-generation immigrants who came to America believing it to be a place that welcomes everyone. The beautiful speeches and moving poems were a welcome antidote to Trump’s hate and a sign that the people of San Francisco will not stand for this blatant discrimination.
Of all the places I could have studied abroad in America, there’s no place I feel safer than San Francisco — even in these uncertain and fearful times. San Francisco is a reminder that even though people like Trump can get elected by America, there’s a place in America which will fight him all the way. God bless San Francisco.