Anti-Trump Protesters Demonstrate in Williamstown
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Waving signs and chanting in the middle of a town where just 13 percent of the vote went to Donald Trump, Wednesday's anti-Trump protest may have felt a little like preaching to the choir.
But for the five dozen people of all ages who braved the cold at the corner of Spring and Main Streets, the gospel of resistance needed to be preached.
"I think it's easy [to draw a crowd] when people feel there's an acute threat," said Andy Cornell, one of the event's organizers. "Otherwise, they might feel complacent.
"But it has to spread beyond areas that are overwhelmingly Democratic, and I think we're seeing that. I know there's going to be another demonstration in North Adams. We've seen things in Pittsfield. All over the country, I think people feel this is the moment to get out in the streets."
Wednesday's noontime protest was sparked by the nationwide outcry over last week's executive order suspending refugee programs and migration from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Cornell, a visiting professor in American studies at Williams, said the organizers pulled the protest together starting Saturday night and spread the word through email, a Facebook events page, word of mouth and the cooperation of groups like Northern Berkshires for Racial Justice.
The protest was timed to coincide with the first day of classes in Williams' spring semester, though Cornell noted that the crowd included a number of people unaffiliated with the college, in addition to students, faculty and staff.
They held signs promoting causes ranging from Black Lives Matter to abortion rights to immigration and chanted slogans like, "This is what democracy looks like," "That Facist Trump has got to go," and "No ban. No wall. Freedom for all."
Cornell said that the advent of the new administration has galvanized a number of progressive causes and helped unite them.
"I think everyone is developing a strategy right now, so nothing is set in stone, but the energy shows people are going to want to continue their dissent in a whole variety of ways," he said.
"One other thing that faculty have done here is they had a teach-in conversation about various issues people are concerned about, whether that's LGBT rights, labor rights and unions, environmental issues, the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act — a lot of people are coming together who have a particular issue and see how all those things are related."
Cornell said there are no specific plans to make the Main Street demonstrations a regular event, but he said there likely will be other actions by the administration that spur protests.
"The Trump administration plans kind of a shock and awe of putting out highly controversial executive orders and appointments and things like that — with [nominated Attorney General] Jeff Sessions and [nominated Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos going through, there are more rumored executive orders and legislations going through," Cornell said. "People are doing everything they can to slow that down. I think we'll soon see a lot of voters who did support Trump be disaffected, and we hope to win them over to our side."
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