In conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities and lectures, approximately 25 students and community members marched through Ann Arbor to protest the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The protest, organized by the University of Michigan chapter of BAMN — the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — predominantly opposed Trump’s plans to change immigration reform.
BAMN frequently hosts protests on campus. Most recently, BAMN held a protest in response to ethnic intimidation attacks on campus since Trump was elected president. Additionally, in early 2014 and again in 2015, eight BAMN protesters were arrested at a University Board of Regents meeting after demanding the University exercise on-site admissions at Detroit schools.
According to Art & Design senior Keysha Wall, a BAMN organizer, the group organizes events in the Ann Arbor area each year surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year, she said, the events are in an effort to oppose the policies of Trump that they believe are destructive.
“It’s part of a larger initiative to shut down Trump’s racist and violent vision for America,” she said.
Immigration policies have been at the forefront of Trump’s platform throughout his campaign. Much of the concern surrounding these policies stems from the anticipated repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents initiatives, which provide aid to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and parents with children who are in the country legally. It is expected Trump will repeal both policies upon entering office.
BAMN organizer Kate Stenvig, a University of Michigan alum, pointed to the national 2006 protests for immigration reform, in which millions of people participated, saying similar action must be taken now.
“We need that but much, much bigger, because Trump has declared war on immigrants,” she said. “We have to build that immigrant rights, civil rights movement to shut down Trump and beat him and beat his racist movement now.”
In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Stenvig said, the protest called for “no business as usual” until action can be taken against Trump. Only those in support of this cause were in attendance at the protest.
“We’re saying everything should be shut down this week,” she said. “Martin Luther King said at the March (on Washington) in 1963 — in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech — he said there would be a rude awakening if the country returned to business as usual. We are saying there should be no business as usual until Trump is defeated.”
Protesters began at the corner of South University Avenue and South Forest Street before marching down various city streets with three police cars following the march.
Protesters held signs reading: “Open the borders now! No more deportations” and “Trump must go by any means necessary” along with others in a similar vein, and chanted phrases including, “No Trump. No wall. Full citizenship. Rights for all” and “Obama, pardon DACA youth now, by any means necessary, shut Trump down.”
The march ended at the corner of North University Avenue and State Street, where protesters continued to hold up signs and individuals voiced their opinions to the group.
“Trump is talking about destroying the lives of the most vulnerable people in this nation,” Wall said. “It isn’t just because it would be easy because they have their information on file, it’s because they are the people who would be at the forefront of destroying his racist, hate-filled, violent movement.”
Markeith Jones, a BAMN organizer and freshman at Wayne State University, said the world is at a crossroads in which people can choose to organize and build a new civilized immigrant rights movement or allow a potentially fascist regime to take over.
“The time period we’re in right now — we’re at a point where the world can go either way,” he said. “There are two sides pushing and pulling. What we are doing is organizing a countermovement against Donald Trump’s movement. If we don’t, the alternative is a rise of fascism in the United States, mass deportations, people being dragged out of their houses, beaten and killed.”
LSA senior Lauren Kay, who was among the protesters, said much like how Martin Luther King Jr. fought against the normalization of discrimination against minorities, people must fight Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
“I think the only proper way to celebrate MLK Day is to fight and is to protest and is to raise hell and is to alter people’s consciences and consciousness,” she said. “And not just have people get trapped in normalizing oppression.”