The University of Michigan’s chapter of BAMN — the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — marched against Richard Spencer’s potential visit to the University, to defend DACA and to protest President Donald Trump’s policies on Friday afternoon as a part of what BAMN called a “National Day of Action.” The event took place on the Diag, and included a number of local high school students. Stop Trump Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Movement for Justice and Metro-Detroit Political Action Network also endorsed the event.
Prior to the event, supporters handed out flyers that included BAMN’s major tenets: defend DACA, have Trump resign or be removed and keep Richard Spencer off campus. One such advocate was BAMN organizer Shandria Vaughn, a University of Michigan at Dearborn alum.
“Richard Spencer being on this campus is a threat to the safety and well-being of all students on this campus,” Vaughn said. “At the end of the day, what I’m fighting for is for there to be full citizenship for all.”
At noon, the protesters began by chanting “Dream Act now, no ban, no wall, full citizenship, rights for all.” BAMN organizer Hoku Jeffrey addressed the crowd and spoke about President Trump and the impact of the last year on minorities and immigrants.
“These attacks on immigrants are undermining the democratic ideas of American society,” Jeffrey said.
The floor then opened for anyone who wished to speak. Many high school students, who left class to be at the event, shared their stories through the megaphones. Yara Aijn, a senior at Pioneer High School, shared the story of how her father was detained last year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Following the high school students, Jessica Prozinski, an organizer of Stop Trump Ann Arbor, described a growing fascist movement centered around racism, and pointed toward Spencer’s request to speak at the University as evidence. She also proposed a call to action.
“We are trying to build our political power, and to me that means the political power of the oppressed,” Prozinski said. “We are trying to attain a society where we have equality, health care and basic human needs met. We have to increase people’s confidence that it’s worth it to fight.”
University students were also at the march, including LSA freshman Amy Ransom, who also attended a Stop Spencer teach-in and participated in the student strike. Ransom said she received more exposure to issues of race after entering college.
“I think that we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to stop him (Richard Spencer) from spewing more hatred and inciting violence,” Ransom said.