At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just 18 hours after the presidential election was called, protesters gathered at First Street and Central Avenue in Albuquerque to protest Donald Trump’s victory.
Protesters sprayed graffiti stating “FUCK TRUMP” on the windows of Tucanos, as well as down the road on crosswalks with messages such as “Live free or die,” “Trump is the enemy” and “Fuck the Police.”
From there, the protest marched east up Central, stopping at UNM Bookstore and walking back west toward Tucanos. From there the march went on, with police blocking off side streets and redirecting traffic to seemingly let the protesters have free reign on the road.
It wasn’t until the march took over I-25 that riot police showed up, jumping out of city buses by the dozens. At that point many businesses in the area closed early as a precaution.
The protesters dispersed and headed back toward UNM, starting a standoff with riot police at the intersection of Yale and Central. The riot police cordoned off a hard line around the intersection, while large groups of protesters gathered nearby, refusing to disperse.
Albuquerque riot police officers stand ready on the corner of Yale Boulevard and Central Avenue on Wednesday night in an attempt to disperse anti-Donald Trump protesters.
The police issued warnings via megaphones, threatening non-lethal action if the protesters didn’t disperse, including the use of chemical agents.
Tensions rose when protesters snuck up the rooftop of nearby restaurants. When spotted, riot officers trained laser sights of what appeared to be tear gas guns toward them.
The crowd of protesters split into separate smaller groups, with many leaving.
'We're all confused...we're all devastated.'
Grace Cornelius, a junior business major, said “I can’t understand how this would happen,” as the protest dwindled.
“We all feel the same way, we’re all devastated, we’re all confused, we all have a lot of fear for what’s going to be coming over the next four years,” she said.
At this point in the protest, the presence of riot police was more of an intimidation tactic than anything, she said, calling it “complete overkill.”
For many Americans, the result of this election is just too bitter a pill to swallow, Cornelius said.
“We’ve got to keep up the fight,” she said, “but stay united.”
James Friedman, one of the organizers of the event and a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, criticized many of Trump’s controversial proposed policies, including the deportation of some 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“We feel there is just an outpouring of rage, grief and dissatisfaction with the two-party system, which allowed for a racist, nativist bigot to win the office of the president,” Friedman said.
Protesters held signs with the slogans “Stand and Fight,” “Fight War, Poverty and Racism,” “Not our President” and “Don’t get mad, get organized.”
Arthur Bell, another protester, said he didn’t believe the United States he stands for is the same United States that Trump stands for. He said he hopes the government will recognize the voice of the protesters.
“Let their actions speak louder than words, I just want them to put their actions behind the movement,” Bell said. “Because at the end of the day we can’t be the only people who are the feeling the way we feel about Trump being elected president so whatever actions we can take to reverse this I would like to see those actions taken.”
Bell said, despite the results, he was appreciative to those who voted, including UNM students.
“I feel like New Mexico was one of the few states that actually does its job when it comes to electing a president we believe in,” he said.
Protesters marched down the streets, looping back to their gathering location downtown, chanting anti-Trump sentiments alongside calls for for unity.
The battle cries varied from “No KKK, no racist USA, no Trump,” to “Black, brown, yellow, white, together we stand together we fight.” The chants also included outrage over Trump’s proposed wall on the border, and encouraged protesters and onlookers to view an injury to one as an injury to all.
Through megaphones speakers focused on voicing fears and encouraging unity to stand against fears, voicing that the protestors could learn from movements in the past.
Abraham Ortiz said he came to the protest because he felt America does not really know what it got itself into.
“Invisible voters that came out, they voted for hate, they voted for bigotry and they don’t realize what they just created in this country,” Ortiz said. “They don’t realize the sleeping giant they just woke up, and it's going to come back and it's going to hurt them really bad.”
As the evening went on, more protesters began showing up in masks, some in their own designs and others wearing Guy Fawkes masks, the type commonly associated with Anonymous.
By around 10:50 p.m., the protesters had mostly gone home, and police began to board the same buses that brought them near UNM.
Dani Foster, a UNM student studying computer science, said he came to the protest because he believes the state of America is “terrible,” and he would like to see a change to the two-party system entirely.
To his fellow students Foster said, “There is a lot of confusion in the state right now and education is our way to freedom. So try to find your position in the crux of society to find your way to a better system, better government, better people and better society.”
Nichole Harwood is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.