On Thursday night a group of students and community members gathered in a room in the SUB to discuss the election of Donald Trump as president — and the mood was anything but happy.
Vote Socialism 2016, a student group and offshoot of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, organized the event, calling it “Not My President.” The room was small but crowded, and there were palpable feelings of despair, shock and resolution in the air as people came to grips with the outcome of Election Night.
A Republican House, Senate and Donald Trump as president — a crushing defeat for liberals and progressives in America.
PSL helped organize what became a huge protest rally on Wednesday night, with hundreds of people blocking traffic on Central Avenue from downtown to Nob Hill, eventually ending in a standoff with APD riot police that never came to blows.
Many of the attendees had been part of the protest the day before, and were wondering what to do next.
People came in one-by-one, and the meeting started. The mood was melancholy at first, but as people began to share their feelings about the election, the conversation turned to organizing against Trump’s agenda and fighting back.
Karina Rodgers, a senior anthropology major and PSL member, said the group organized the meeting as a forum for people to share their feelings about the unexpected election outcome, and give people a chance to organize.
“I think a lot of people are frustrated, they’re upset, and rightfully so,” Rodgers said. “It’s really important, it’s going to be the next four years of our country. A lot of people are wondering, ‘What can we do, and where do we go from here?’ We wanted people to come together, talk, share their experiences and learn there’s a lot of things you can do.”
The PSL members who organized the meeting spoke first. They began by discussing the campaign promises made by Trump: mass deportations, a ban on Muslims, building a wall and the repeal of Obamacare.
Then James Friedman, an alum and PSL organizer, spoke about PSL’s equally “radical” demands of the government: free housing, food and health care for everyone, citizenship for all undocumented immigrants and plans to help the middle class.
After that the attendees began to share their feelings one at a time, expressing shock, anger and fear over Trump’s victory, and called for an end to what some considered a corrupt two-party system that doesn’t hear their concerns.
Joseph Flores, a communication and journalism graduate student, saw a flyer for the event, and said he was happy he came to the meeting. Flores is new to Albuquerque, and said he was glad he had found an activist community to get involved with.
“It’s a national thing now, where there are a bunch of organizations across many identity markers doing stuff like this,” Flores said. “I’ve only been in Albuquerque for a couple months now, and it was very important to me to find something to be involved in.”
One attendee spoke about the need to stay positive and keep from falling into despair over the hatred and bigotry many Americans are expressing.
A consistent theme throughout the discussion was a desire and call to organize, join activist groups and get involved in the political system.
Kathryn Barr, a junior philosophy major and PSL member, said she originally got involved with the group through a similar meeting. After that meeting, she went out for coffee with one of the organizers, after which Barr said she decided to take the next step — get more involved, and become a member of a movement for change.
“We don’t have to feel like this, that there’s nothing we can do,” Barr said. “There are so many different outlets, so many different organizations that appeal to your ideals. Joining groups like that, looking up different outreach programs to have your voice be heard — I think it’s really important.”
Barr also expressed a larger frustration with the current political system that extends beyond Trump and the Republicans. She said PSL will be working with other groups at UNM like KIVA Club, Red Nation and LGBTQ students in future protests.
Rodgers said the night was a success in bringing the community together and letting people share their feelings, be heard and be part of a community of like-minded people.
“Tonight was a huge turnout, a lot of people of different backgrounds, different ages. It was exciting, and everyone was engaged,” she said. “We’re going to keep organizing, keep building the movement and keep holding protest rallies around town.”
Find out about future PSL meetings and protests held on campus at facebook.com/VoteSocialist2016.
Jonathan Baca is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JonGabrielB.