Hundreds walked out of their classes about noon Friday and met to rally at Sproul Plaza, where they joined with Berkeley High School students and other community members to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump and march to Oakland.
In addition to the noon rally and march, the coalition organized more than 30 teach-ins that started at 8 a.m. and covered topics ranging from “Free Speech, Hate Speech and the Backlash Against (Political Correctness)” to “Fighting Against Trump and the Capitalist Two-Party System.”
“This is something to fight against — not just what (Trump) does, but the people as well,” said UC Berkeley freshman Julia Acuna-Fleming.
Activist group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, also participated in the rally and subsequent march to Oakland, which began about 1:30 p.m.
The crowd initially gathered in front of the Savio Steps to listen to speakers voice their concerns with the new presidency. One speaker, campus activist and former Daily Californian staff member Juan Prieto emphasized the importance of protecting immigrants under the new administration. Trump has promised to remove or incarcerate what he estimates to be about 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
“As they rise up their physical wall, we must build up a moral wall between our community and the Trump administration,” Prieto said.
Speeches were punctuated by chants from the crowd, and many of the protesters held signs, some of which read, “Trump Must Go By Any Means Necessary,” “Sanctuary Campus Now” and “Pussy Grabs Back.”
The Berkeley College Republicans stood nearby at their booth on Sproul Plaza, where they played audio from the inauguration. Several students approached the booth to question BCR members about Trump and his stances.
“I feel that people have the right to be here, even though I don’t agree with what they say,” said Trump supporter Nicholai Pran. “I’m pretty optimistic (about Trump), quite honestly.”
Protesters left Sproul Plaza and started marching on Telegraph Avenue toward Oakland about 2:00 p.m., chanting phrases like “Love, not hate, makes America great” and “My body, my choice.” The group was soon joined by onlookers as they made their way toward Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, where a later rally was held by demonstrators.
Some volunteers of the National Lawyers Guild walked alongside the protests as legal observers. Campus third-year Camille Fassett, who attended the march as a legal observer, was present to watch police and make sure their actions were lawful.
While many protesters had planned in advance to participate in the march, others decided to join in on a whim. Campus junior Kevin Perez was walking home from class when he saw marchers passing by and immediately decided to become a part of the effort, adding that marching was his way of supporting his undocumented family members in the wake of Trump’s inauguration.
Campus student Trish Arreola said she took part in the protest in order to demonstrate her opposition to discrimination.
“I’m marching because I don’t want to normalize hate, oppression and discrimination,” said Arreola. “Right now is a time for us to be strong and stand in solidarity.”
After attending the protest on Sproul Plaza, campus juniors Megan Imperial and Sahar Hashemian decided to join the march to support women of color in the face of hate they said Trump has normalized.
“I’m protesting because hate is being normalized and white supremacy is on the rise,” Imperial said. “People are feeling like it’s okay to be racist, which is dangerous for people of color, especially (for women) of color.”
Before arriving at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, protesters stopped at the Fox Theater about 3:00 p.m. to wait for the Muslim Student Association to reach them. The hiatus included brief speeches opposing tuition hikes and privatization of the U.S. education system.
After reaching Oakland City Hall about 3:15 p.m., the crowd flooded Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to hear demonstrators deliver speeches, which revolved around themes such as the importance of mobilizing as a method of resistance. At the plaza, Oakland Technical High School junior Nehemiah Vaughn performed a rap he wrote to unify people his age and encourage them to fight against the new administration.
The J20 coalition started planning for Friday’s demonstrations as early as Nov. 9, according to UAW Local 2865 President David McCleary. He added that they plan to continue meeting and demonstrating on UC Berkeley’s campus.
“This is just the beginning … We’re not here to vent our frustration. We’re here to organize,” McCleary said. “There’s going to be a lot more coming in the days and months ahead — we have lots of plans.”
Contact the Daily Californian News Staff at [email protected].
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that legal observers are employees of the National Lawyers Guild. In fact, they are volunteers with the NLG.