A unity peace march through Ann Arbor was organized by residents Sunday afternoon in response to Tuesday’s election, aiming to promote peace.
Hundreds of families from the city as well as neighboring Ypsilanti, gathered on the Diag with colorful posters and chalk in support of socioeconomic and LGBTQ rights, as well as the rights of all people, regardless of race.
The unity march was advertised through Facebook and shared among hundreds of parents in the area. For some attendees, this was their first anti-Trump protest. Many Ann Arbor residents, like Smita Malpani, said they came to the event to give their children a positive space to spread a feeling of community to other residents of the city.
Malpani said her family was anxious after the election, leaving her children to wonder about their future in the country.
“(My daughter’s) first reaction was ‘Do we have to move?’ ” she said. “And (my son’s) first reaction was, ‘How can that be? He is a mean bully. How can that even be possible?’ ”
On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump maintained an anti-immigration platform and was heavily criticized for his rhetoric against people of color, Muslims, women and the LGBTQ community. His Vice President-elect Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, has in particular held an anti-LGBTQ stance, including signing bills to allow businesses to turn away individuals based on religious beliefs.
Malpani said she has had many discussions with her older children about the fallout after the election and its influence across the country. She said her daughter asked if they would be attacked at the unity march.
“I felt fortunate that I could say very definitely that ‘No, we don’t live in that community,’ ” Malpani said. “I’m grateful for the people who organized this. It’s for the children, but it’s helping me.”
Ann Arbor residents Luciana Aenasoaie, assistant director of Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and Cami Michels made posters for the march, and said they wanted to show support for equality and spread positive messages.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of sad friends recently,” Michels said. “There have been too many incidents; they are hurting. So we came to support them.”
Ann Arbor parent Jason Tomalia said his children were interested in the event after their disappointment in Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss. Tomalia said his children, particularly his son, were wondering how they could get involved in the community through the unity march.
“We were all a little disappointed,” he said. “But we know we’ve got to work together and move forward. (The rally) feels really great; there’s definitely a good vibe here. We all want peace and love and understanding of each other.”
Ann Arbor resident Alex Jackson said he and his sister, Emily Miller, came to the event to help bring out a positive message and spark a higher voter outcome in the future against Trump’s presidency.
“(We came to the event) to try to be proactive in the adversity we feel like we are facing in terms of electing a president who has quoted saying misogynistic, racist, sexist, xenophobic just pretty much an affront to pretty much every value we hold,” he said. “Rather than going into despair, we are trying to show as a community we don’t support those values and do what we can to come together.”
Miller said the rally was important because, of the groups targeted during the campaign, children are often overlooked.
“Global warming? He doesn’t believe in global warming,” Miller said. “And these guys are going to be facing all of the issues that are going to come out. I want to make sure I do everything in my power to make the world a better place for my kids. They deserve that.”
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify the event as a unity march in response to recent events rather than a protest against the election’s results.