York students attend anti-Trump protest in solidarity with worldwide women’s marches

Students from the University of York attended a protest held by York Stand Up to Racism against the inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday 20 January in St Helen’s Square.

Standing in solidarity with millions of people from across the world, at least 100 people were expected to attend.According to the York Press, a spokeswoman said the organisation was “lending its voice to global protests at the inauguration of a President who has already done so much to stir up racial hatred”.

Ksarah Nance, studying Women’s Studies, attended the event and  described how, although “the protest in York was small, it was still heartening to see others there and know that we were coming together against something.

“And seeing the women’s marches around the world – in Kenya and Germany and New Zealand and so many other countries – it was really powerful. There was such a sense of solidarity and hope”.

The women’s marches grew from an initial push on Washington against Donald Trump, which saw over one million people march in a historic display of  objection on Saturday 21 January.  Peaceful protesters in pink hats filled the streets that had previously been empty for the inaugaration. The total number of attendees on Friday is uncertain, however Trump has claimed 1.5 million were present in sharp contrast to the lowest report of
250 000.

Inescapable, on the other hand, were the reported 5 million that marched in a bid to  bring to light fears over Trump’s comments on women, minorities and those with disabilities. Concerns regarding his Presidency were voiced all over the world. Sister marches rose up in Nairobi, Sydney, London, Rome, Cape Town and many more.

It is believed that over 600 cities and towns participated in demonstrations of solidarity against the election of Trump and what he has come to represent.

In London it is thought that almost 100 000 people, consisting of

men, women and children descended upon Trafalgar Square.

Many recognisable individuals were keen to voice their concerns. London was privy to singer Lily Allen and mayor Sadiq Khan. From further afield, celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Madonna and Ashley Judd spoke out profusely.

Despite these unanimous protestations, Trump’s main, response was aimed at the aforementioned figures via his Twitter. He claimed that they had “hurt the cause badly” and that although he “watched the protests yesterday” he “was under the impression that we just had an election!”

However, it remains to be seen what the immediate political impact of the marches will be. Questions have been raised as to whether these instances of protest are merely part of the cathartic process of accepting Trump’s Presidency, or  if they will grow into a longer-lasting opposition movement.

Many chanted, “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!”, suggestive of the potential for long-term objection. Director of Amnesty International, Kate Allen, speaking to the Guardian, remained hopeful that “this is more than a moment.

“This is a movement and people of all genders, all ages and all backgrounds are coming together to take action against attacks on human rights and women’s rights.”

Women’s rights are not the only issue on the agenda. The protests in York were led by Stand Up to Racism and Global Justice Now, showing an even more problematic political landscape. Members of York Global Justice Now alongside the protest also let down a banner across the River Ouse reading “Build Bridges Not Walls”.  With this they hope to send a “message of unity against the hatred and division that has spread across the world throughout the past year”.

As part of a wider campaign that extends across the UK and world, Bridges Not Walls as an initiative has now dropped over 250 banners across five continents. Placards to do with issues including Brexit, nuclear weapons, workers rights and LGBTQ rights have also been seen across Britain’s protests. Nance also spoke of wanting  “to make their presence known and speak out against transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, and misogyny.” The protests highlighted a plethora of issues that have come to a head over the course of the last year, many of which will affect students not only at York but worldwide.

Consequentially, many hope to further inspire student involvement in politics and protest. A similar rally will take place on 15 February in York, continuing a simple but hopeful message.

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