Anger over election turns to action, chants and tears in Newark

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Nenseh Koneh, a Temple University student from Newark, speaks to anti-Trump demonstrators at City Hall
Nenseh Koneh, a Temple University student from Newark, speaks to anti-Trump demonstrators at City Hall

About 100 demonstrators, mostly young women of color, marched and chanted their way through the streets of downtown Newark Saturday afternoon, part of a spreading movement against the presidency of Donald Trump. They staged two sit-down protests in four hours, closing McCarter Highway and occupying the concourse of Newark Penn Station.

 

“If there ain’t gonna be no justice, there ain’t gonna be no peace!”

Their chants–“If there ain’t gonna be no justice, there ain’t gonna be no peace!”–and their makeshift signs–“Fuck Trump” and “Pussy grabs back!”–showed how the shock and sadness over the results of Tuesday’s election have been transformed into anger and, possibly, sustained action.

“Love trumps hate!”

Many of the students said they would travel to New York and Philadelphia to join continuing demonstrations against Trump whose campaign against Hillary Clinton was marked by threats to ban Muslim visitors to the United States and the creation of a task force to deport more than 11 million undocumented workers.

Anti-Trump protesters stage sit-in in Newark Penn Station
Anti-Trump protesters stage sit-in in Newark Penn Station

Build bridges not walls!”

Although it was noisy, the demonstration was peaceful and there were no arrests.

“No justice, no peace–no racist police!”

“I was only worried once,” said one of the organizers, 18-year-old Nenseh Koneh, a Newark resident who is in her first year at Temple University in Philadelphia.   “I was afraid some of the people in the street might come after us.”

“Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Donald Trump is KKK!”

That was when the students–from Temple, Drew, Rutgers, New York University, William Paterson University, Essex County College and nearby high schools–sat down at the intersection of McCarter Highway and Market Street, a block from Penn Station, blocking traffic.

“Show me what democracy looks like–this is what democracy looks like!”

Protesters sat down to block traffic at McCarter Highway
Protesters sat down to block traffic at McCarter Highway

Some motorists left their cars and approached the students.  Although some observers cheered on the students, a few were clearly angry and one demanded the police–present in force–arrest the students. The Newark police, however, made no move to clear the intersection.

“If we don’t get it, shut it down!”

New Jersey Transit police also did not try to block the protesters’ entry into Penn Station and allowed the sit-in demonstration, a move that brought cheers from some of the commuters rushing to and from trains.

“Donald Trump is not my president!”

A number of the students spoke at spontaneous rallies during the march. Conspicuously missing, however, were elected officials or leaders of civil rights and other civic and political organizations. Representatives of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO, spoke briefly in support of the anti-Trump demonstrators. The group–People’s Organization for Progress”–also sent members.

“Black Lives Matter!”

Protesters marched from City Hall to Penn Station
Protesters marched from City Hall to Penn Station

“We can’t complain about that–we only had a short time to put this together,” said Koneh. “So I’m glad for whatever support we did receive. This won’t be the end of it.”

“Gay Lives Matter! Muslim Lives Matter! “

Sorrow and frustration–as well as anger–were apparent. One Rutgers-Newark student, Halima Stewart, told the rally at Penn Station that young people believed in democracy and the vote–a democracy that somehow awarded its highest political office to a man who had won only a minority of the votes.

“We’re young, we’re strong, we’re marching all day long!”

“We voted and we voted for a reason–don’t take that vote away from us,” said Stewart.

“Whose streets? Our streets!”

The core of the group was made up of  participants in what had become a major force in local Newark politics a few years ago–the Newark Student Union (NSU). Although the NSU was co-opted by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and all but disappeared, leaders of the old organization–Jose Leonardo, Tanaisa Brown,  Kristin Towkaniuk, Hector Maldonado–all now college students–were active in Saturday’s march.

“Whose future? Our future!”

Halima Stewart, a Rutgers Newark student, speaks at rally at Newark Penn Station.
Halima Stewart, a Rutgers Newark student, speaks at rally at Newark Penn Station.

“We’re hopeful this is going to grow from here,” said Koneh. “I think you’re going to see a national student movement aimed at Trump. This was definitely something positive.”

“We gonna be all right!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 comments

  1. Andrew

    Half of the populace is going through the 5 stages of grief following this election.Denial: Cry-ins, postponed exams, etc.Anger: Protests, riots, shout downs.Bargaining: If only the FBI hadn’t spoken…If only no one took Wiki leaks seriously…Despair: America has died at the hands of racists, homophobes, xenophobes, misogynists, etc.
    When we get to Acceptance, perhaps all will do well to look at what the voters (and nonvoters) actually said with regard to this election.
    Fact: As no viable third party exists in this country, the election was perceived, by all accounts, to be between a creep and a crook.
    Fact: The divergence between rich and poor has grown faster in the last 8 years
    Fact: Clinton received over 6 million less votes than Obama
    Fact: Trump received more African American and Hispanic votes than Romney
    Fact: Trump received less total votes than Romney
    Fact: If only a minute fraction of the voters mentioned above had opted for Clinton in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Raleigh, the results would have been the opposite.
    What inferences could be made from these facts? 1) A significant number of non-whites voted with their feet demonstrating little faith that Clinton would help and little fear that Trump would hurt their current situation. 2) Voters in Middle America have not benefited from the current state of affairs as have the bi-coastal elites. 3) There is clearly a common link between inner-city and fly-over state voters. That is, the economy is failing them and there is no trust that establishment politicians can fix it.
    If one applies Ockham’s razor to provide an explanation: They voted to shake up the system. Period.

    • TK 2016

      This is a well (enough) structured argument, Andrew, as far as it goes, but it ends with a very pregnant period. Could you expand on that a little bit? What all actually lives inside that little dot?

      You know, beneath its diminutive footprint. I’ll throw in a few elements for you to incorporate – or reject. It’s entirely your choice:

      1) Do you think Trump voters went for a shake up – or a consummate dealmaker’s long con? Given a Trump administration could well feature the crème de la crème of Republican extremists and bomb-throwing political entertainers, all of it feeding into and amplified by a Republican-friendly Congress and Judiciary (and all the way down to the state level – hot damn, they’re probably thinking … no more roadblocks … it’s about to be our time!), this is not likely to be a shake up so much as it is a side door thrown open to fringe Republican VIPs and their favorite hangers on. This might, of course, include some proven and “promising” talent from the so-called other side(s), as long as they bow and kiss the ring – after checking their long knives in with the bouncers. (What would be the Democratic Party equivalent? We haven’t actually seen THAT kind of spectacle in Washington D.C. before – not from officeholders. When have the truest heroes of the left ever held such a packed hand – let alone played it to best effect? Unless, maybe, you’re carelessly taking the declarations and false memories of strictly right wing sources and critics as a benchmark. The left itself – if you happen to go for the whole left/right thing — has an A-list that is substantially different than any Barack Obama could have or would have kept together in his own administration.)

      2) With Trump at the helm, these otherwise fringe Republican operators get to pose as relative foils – the “voices of sanity” in the room – affording their policy people exponentially better maneuvering clearances and the broad authority they have been planning toward and dreaming of since before Ronald Reagan took office. This is not a shake up so much as a culmination.

      3) I think you need to actually believe in Trump to believe it will be other than this. In due time the record will show – yet the press might not – what this new dimension in his “art of the deal” hath wrought, while social media (the new king of the media kingdom?) will continue to shamelessly insulate and isolate the views of each warring faction. The honest truth will remain in critically short supply, while informational munitions? A bull market, as always. The IT kings are surely doing their incomparable bit to curate for and reinforce the prone within any given stripe of the faithful. Trump is a deal maker, a delegator, a self-proclaimed mastermind. Plus: he’ll hire and fire like nobody’s business and without the encumbrance of a reason given and no apology – think of the power! Mein Herr! In short, he is a very flashy and mercurial front man. For what? One could argue that this has become the “real” significance of the office of the (modern) President of the United States. The POTUS elect, like Bob Hope in his USO days, is here to reinforce an image of the homeland and boost “troop” morale, before we go back to the prescribed killing and essential maiming – aka: “reconditioning” — and all in the name of some industry or another’s vision of who should eat best, and first, in the corrected planetary pecking order. How can the Trump faithful know that his global dealmaking will lead to anything more than, say, familiar short-term profiteering and a re-consolidation of raw, old-school power? Because, say, his offspring and kin are board members in the “company” and they of course want a shot at a future, too? That helps seal it? I smell a new family dynasty in the making. Is this really a shake up?

      4) Republican extremists want the damn presidency. Trump got it – for them? – and in a “whole new way” – do you believe that bit? Is Trump’s shtick actually new? Are Republicans actually surprised? How about the old guard? Does it matter? Maybe not at all, because hey, it worked. Look at that! I think some people bought into way more than a shake up. I think you need to be willfully ignorant to believe, at this point in the process, that this whirl is essentially about Trump, the man, and that the office of the American president is optimally effective when reduced to a mere cult of personality. A personality that will, occasionally, act out on a reckless need to make his own gut decisions from time to time, just to remind the inner (and outer) circles whose name is actually on the desk. And the button. The US presidency works one way under an authentic president, when you can find one, and another way when the officeholder himself serves to take it out of the bigger equation (as a true representative of governmental and constitutional integrity and the protector of the rights and will of the people) and delivers it instead into the hands and whims of private interests (however impressed with themselves they might tend to feel). Federal government – you could argue all government – has substantially morphed, by now, into a handmaiden to business (sound familiar?), just like die-hard business interests have always dreamed of, and Donald Trump happens to be the guy with the big hair and elevated boobs that can hold audience attention just long enough for the promoters to make their egregious gate. Then, maybe, get out of town when the jig is up, before the roof falls in. Again. Always burden the opposition party with the cleanup, Republicans are known to say, because this is, in their minds, a matter of total war, and it will be fought against the nation’s own population whenever they see the need. Oh, and from the playbook: always accuse the opposition (clever, huh?) of doing exactly the “foul deeds” you yourselves intend to perpetrate on an unsuspecting (or misled) public. Because, they chuckle, liberals, for example, are so not tough – and the tactic will throw them into a predictable tizzy. And all too often it will (as it might anyone who has been deliberately fucked with for the first time – or the last). Damn shame, that. But maybe people have learned, by now, what it costs to have a conscience and go up against a guy like Christie, for another example, who can glibly write his whole bag of pathological manipulation and insane posturing off to “politics.” It ain’t lyin’, it’s just politics! Genius.

      5) I think voters are liable to find (at the very least the 75% or so that did not vote for Mr. Trump) that they have precious few lanes of access to the Trump White House (if DJT can even be found there – also part of a trend in modern Republican presidential aspirants, a certain NJ governor among them), even as Trump and company will broadcast, all day long and into the twittery night, that they are always here for us. On their mobile. Just like entertainers. Mwah! Who loves ya?

      6) This is quite a bit more than a shake up. There is serious calculating on either side of the “period” of your closing, and the moment of this particular period will be brief. Then, at the stroke of a pen in January, and upon taking an oath to the public, things will get real (and ever more unreal), all over again. Do you happen to believe, in any way, in Donald Trump? Take this question as rhetorical if you prefer – I’m not the prying kind. And think about packing a special umbrella, because the slick, high-priced BS is really going to fly in the near term, along with much heavier things. Whose pockets do you suppose will first catch all of that recirculated and newly “liberated” (and formerly public) cash?

      7) What actually happens, and for whom, when international business interests, practices, processes, and principles grow both large and pervasive enough to swallow entire governments (and not a small one, this time around) all in one bite? Does elected government then functionally cease to be, or does it somehow find future relevance, like someone’s demented idea of a brilliant Elvis impersonator?

      8) How deep in it do you think we actually are, when a guy like Donald Trump (and Christie, before him) can waltz onto the national stage claiming, like, say, Sarah Palin might, the ability to save us, allegedly from ourselves, like — he promises, he really does — he and ONLY HE can? Pretty damn deep. Next we might be hearing claims that Christie himself was victimized by no less than the State of New Jersey.

      9) No matter how you slice it, I believe we are, as a voting public, seriously for want of massive protest, irrespective of party affiliation, and it’s going to take a lot of it to make a big enough difference. The pay scales for the upscale are long out of control, yet they still manage to (profitably) control the public policy agenda, leaving us with bupkis – and a bunch of IOUs. Non-violent street protests and public demonstrations – within a citizen’s right to directly petition their government – are immediately to the point, and promise something both more tangible and more restorative to our representative democracy – a true exercise of the will of the people – than any secretive shakeup now promised by the King of Trump Tower. People are understandably pissed, finally, and that is a good thing for America and long overdue. Please let’s choose our targets like the strong and civilized people we aspire to be, and like the nation we truly want to become. Don’t trust the Donald to figure anything out for us, much as he might enjoy that position of advantage, because his brain is well known to only work a certain kind of way. Candidate Trump earned, at best, but a 25% share of a largely disaffected electorate. We all remember Christie’s peak in popularity, not even four years ago. What were people thinking then? People do get scary. Very, very scary. And worse. Things can, and do, get much worse. And there’s no way – wish as we might — sometimes, to take it all back.

      http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Cunningham-TwoAmericasinOnePhotograph-1200.jpg

  2. booklady

    Andrew makes some terrific points. However, I think DJT voters voted for a reality show host for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. If they’d wanted to “shake up the system,” there would have been more changes in both houses of Congress. Zephyr Teachout got 45% but even she was beaten by a Republican.

    • Andrew

      Tip O’Neil said, “all politics is local.” which explains the little change in Congress but in 1980 even he learned that the general economy is not.

  3. booklady

    I hope these voters will select some strategic approaches re policy for their next efforts. DJT said he’d bring jobs back to US, so maybe they can petition him to start w. his & Ivanka’s own clothing lines. Maybe they want to phone DJT’s three NJ golf courses to ask if clothing sold in pro shop is made in US. (Temple students can phone his Philadelphia course.)

    DJT said he’d do better than Affordable Care Act. So petition to start Medicare eligibility at age 55. So many people in that age bracket are out of work, it makes sense. That could benefit these young folks’ parents, grandparents.

    I doubt DJT cares that protestors are blocking major arteries in Newark or 101 in LA. He could figure the police who’d endorsed him are getting Overtime.

    The cleverness used to register for Cami Anderson’s planned speech at AEI is called for again.

  4. Abigail Shure

    I am terrified by the bandying about of a national registry for Muslims. The parallels to registry of Jews under the Nazis are unmistakeable. Then there is mention of the reincarnation of internment camps that imprisoned loyal Japanese citizens during World War II. Proposed enhanced interrogation is returning to the national conversation. I am horrified by the prospect of criminalizing individuals based on membership in particular religious and ethnic communities. Those chosen to serve in the Trump administration would be well advised to read the work of Elie Wiesel prior to launching our society down a path of no return.

    • Mythology

      Ms. Shure, you and TK2016, in my opinion, “…have your finger on the pulse ” of what is in store for this nation. DT is a front man that brings an unnecessary future to America. The Bush administration is going to look like an elementary school compared to the lessons we are about to learn in the near future.

      Your historical reference is comparable, in this country, to the American Civil War.

      The statement about money ruling every aspect of American life is more true today then ever before.

      Money is the Republican Party’s platform. They are going to try and take from the American citizen and give to themselves. This will be done ultimately through the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. The laws will be changed to protect the elite and their families.

      Never again will America see a Middle Class like the Boomer Generation obtained in their lifetime. We in New Jersey are already witness to the dismantling of the Boomers Financial Legacy.

      The solution is again mired in the will of the people. Again your historical reference was ultimately defeated by the global will of the people but not before millions had died.

      So, again in my opinion, what has to be done in rejecting this American Money Grab by today’s politicians is to unite in identifying political corruption before one more person dies because of this Republican agenda.

  5. Abigail Shure

    The Democrats also surround themselves with big money. How do we unite? I found a Trump supporter right in my family and we are having the most inane conversations. In the last few days, we have found little common ground leaving me little hope of bridging the gap with others.

    • Mythology

      Well, Ms. Shure, that is just part of life. You cannot control what people think and I believe that is the biggest takeaway from this presidential election. We as human beings who generally have a caring nature towards our fellow man have to realize that others who are not of a caring nature populate the world also. Sometimes I listen to the media outlets that express a different take on life than me just to get their viewpoint on today’s society.

      What you are dealing with, and I love that you are sharing a family matter in public, is your lifelong love of this person and the shock that they don’t agree with you politically. You understand how devastating the wrong kind of political representation can destroy the quality of life we all strive for. Thus, your concern.

      Try listening with a different ear to what they are saying. Maybe they are taking the values that you hold dear and seeing if they fit in their world but don’t ever think that they have lost any respect for who you are and what you have accomplished in your life.

      I would start by asking why they feel the way they do about DT and give them the time and space to explain why. This election was, in one way necessary. It showed me how many people suffering economically, supported Trump because they believed he was the answer to their problems, but do not realize how worse off they would be without President Obama cleaning up the economic mess left by the Bush administration. You and I do. So this is why I was amazed at the election results. I would love for you to be able to let me know if you are in a better place after your next conversation with your loved one. You can make it happen so do so.

      • Abigail Shure

        Thanks Mythology! I mistakenly viewed my relative’s vote as an anti-Clinton gesture. The surprise came as we started to pick apart Trump’s choices for his administration. My take was, “Where is he finding these people?” One is an anti-Semite. Another uses racial epithets to refer to colleagues. A third has determined that Islam is not a religion. And my family member had an explanation for each issue I raised. That was my moment of clarity. I have known for many years that no one else in my family works in Newark, New Jersey and no one else has the privilege of sharing a slice of life with the little people I teach. I do not concern myself much with whether people agree, or disagree with me. My two bit opinions are of little consequence. I am disturbed, however, by those who sit on their comfortable perches and care not about the civil rights of others.

        • Mythology

          Ms. Shure,I most definitely was glad to help and happy that you were able to use my advice successfully.

          As I was thinking about the current political events occurring during this period of time, the words ” Term Limits, Recall and Impeachment kept running through my head.
          I believe that these are the words that apply to all who fear the coming Trump Administration.

          The example that I would give would be the the Newark Public Schools Educational System. Chris Christie has less than a year to find new employment. Thus, the Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools will also be looking for new employment when the next Governor makes his staff appointments. These are the realities that all employees have to face when political term limits are put into motion.

          So therefore, DT and his appointees actually have four years to show that the public fears of his administration are unfounded or he takes the risk of not getting four more years as the POTUS.

          I believe that the next four years will go by quickly and America will have enough information to judge the man on his own merits to see if he can mount another winning campaign for the presidency.

          As far as those who supported President Obama, he is not going anywhere and he will be a source to go to when questions arise about what is good and bad that DT tries to legislate.

          I read yesterday how DT has a battle ahead of him in his own party. Those that he defeated to gain his parties nomination, did not go away. They got re-elected and are primed to defeat him at every turn he tries to make.

          So enclosing, I would repeat the words ” Term Limits, Recall and Impeachment “, as the checks on many of his promises to his constituents.

  6. Abigail Shure

    Do you have a link Mythology? Trump is including former Republican opponents in his administration. In my view, our new president will completely overpower the few Democrats left standing. His appointment for secretary of education wants to end public schools by expanding charters and implementing vouchers. Christie might still find employment in DC and Cerf has an uncanny ability to land on his feet. Veteran teachers, on the other hand, have become an endangered species. Over time, Americans may become more desensitized to racist and bigoted public discussion if recent events are any indication. I admire your optimism and regret that I do not share it.

    • Mythology

      No regrets necessary Ms. Shure. You are who you are.
      You are absolutely correct that I am an optimist and very proud to be one. Of course in this world today I might be outnumbered a million or so to one so I have become a realist also.

      Your comments about Christie and Cerf miss my point. It is not about them landing a new job. It was about the power and influence that they will be losing. Those are two things that take time to achieve in whatever New job you enter into.

      Also my point was that because of Term Limits, the city of Newark will be able to set a new path for itself.

      Now look at this. New Jersey just got its 10th fiscal downgrade. With DT making New Jersey his unofficial presidential retreat any fiscal maven will tell you that that is going to give New Jersey an economic boost it has been needing for years. Basically, the infrastructure upgrades necessary to protect the president will benefit the state.

      So, again. all I try to do Is make people see the big picture. And once again New Jersey benefits through the fact that it is the transportation hub of the United States. The Christie Administration just screwed that economic advantage up big time.

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