The chant “No Trump, no KKK, no racist, sexist U.S.A.,” echoed throughout the University of Michigan campus Tuesday night as more than 100 students, faculty and community members attended a rally and march described as stopping “Trump’s racist vision for America.” The University chapter of BAMN — the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — organized the event.
The march aimed to defend immigrant rights and advocate against the militarization of the United States-Mexico border, citing President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign pushes to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and incarcerate or depart two to three million undocumented immigrants. Additionally, the protest addressed recent ethnic intimidation attacks on campus since Trump was elected president.
In the first incident, a white male threatened to light a female Muslim student on fire if she did not remove her hijab Friday. Additionally, a male student woke up to find a swastika painted on his apartment door, and another female student was yelled at for being in America and pushed down a hill by two men referencing religion. Immediately following the election last week, the Rock was also painted with the phrases “fuck America” and “kill ‘em all” over logos of the Republican and Democratic parties.
Before the rally, Art & Design sophomore Keysha Wall, an organizer of the event and member of BAMN, said the purpose is to show solidarity with minority students and make it known that ethnic intimidation crimes will not be tolerated.
“Specifically after the Muslim woman was attacked on campus, it was even a fight to have UM DPSS mark this as a hate crime … this has been necessary,” Wall said. “It is necessary as soon as possible to make a stand and remind those bigots that they don’t get to get away with this. They don’t get to get away with threatening and intimidating anybody on this campus.”
At the start of the event, attendees gathered in the Diag and listened to event organizers as they brought forth their concerns regarding Trump’s policies.
Police later followed behind attendees as they marched in the streets throughout campus, taking a route past popular buildings and residence halls. There have been several BAMN rallies on other university campuses similar to Tuesday’s, including two at Wayne State University last week and another one in Detroit occurring Tuesday as well.
LSA sophomore Elena Schmitt, a member of the LGBT Michigan organization, said prior to the event she had watched a man writing Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” in chalk on the Diag. Schmitt said after talking with the man, who defended Trump’s platform, she saw how necessary action and rallies were.
“The most alarming part was how much he excused Donald Trump’s … language against women — the ‘grab women by the pussy’ comment,” Schmitt said. “And I asked him about the sexual assault allegations, and he said that it doesn’t matter. He said the University of Michigan says that conservatives don’t have the freedom of speech.”
Schmitt added that the rise in instances of discrimination on campus — which she found surprising due to the perception of Ann Arbor as liberal-leaning — was another primary reason she attended the rally.
A Ypsilanti resident who only gave his name as Steve said he drove through heavy traffic to make the rally because he thought it was crucial for all community members to be present.
“We need to stand up to the hate and oppression that a lot of people are getting, and those of us in a position to be able to act and to be involved should be acting and getting involved,” Steve said.
Rackham student Lamin Manneh said he attended because he has concerns about Trump’s immigration policies, citing Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration during his campaign in particular.
“One of the main concerns is immigrants and what this new administration is going to do with regards to immigrant issues, which will probably make life very hard for a lot of immigrants — both documented and undocumented,” Manneh said. “For me, it’s important that we do not normalize Trump’s presidency and that we are in a constant state of protest.”
Event organizers announced that they are planning to have a similar march Thursday night as well.