This post was written by reporter Leah Potter.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House Saturday night in opposition of new President-elect Donald Trump.
Students, families and working professionals came together for a “candle-less” vigil, carrying glow sticks and battery powered candles with “love” hand-written on them. Some carried signs reading slogans like “Stronger Together” and “America Deserves Better.”
Emma-Claire Martin, a student at American University, spoke first to the crowd, retelling her experience on election night, which was also her birthday. Martin also performed her spoken word poem “Nothing Rhymes with Orange,” written in response to the election.
“We were all ready to celebrate the first woman being in the White House,” Martin said. “But we all cried. I don’t know about tomorrow, but we have to fight now.”
After Martin finished speaking, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to her.
The protesters observed two minutes of silence to reflect on their individual response to the election. They broke the silence with song, first singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, who passed away this week.
Other songs on the playlist ranged from patriotic, like “This Land is Your Land” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” to protest classics like “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome.”
Rachel Wynn and Michelle Kramer, both psychology graduate students at GW, said they were glad to find a peaceful way to protest the recent presidential election.
“Everybody’s just been super sad about what happened and not necessarily wanting to be out protesting, but want to be around people who are coming together and and show a supportive way to express support for those individuals who have felt particularly targeted,” Wynn said.
“We just liked the tone of this event,” Kramer said. “How it was more supportive than protesting.”
Both young women, Wynn and Kramer expressed their dismay at former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss.
“I guess as a woman especially it’s hard to see someone who is so overqualified for the job come in and be defeated by someone with zero qualifications,” Wynn said. “I feel it just represents the challenges we face in the workplace.”
Danielle Ciaurro, a GW junior, said that attending the vigil was a way to “check her own privilege,” and stand in support of those who she said will be most affected by the shift in leadership, like immigrants and Muslim Americans.
Ciaurro said she was initially in a state of shock after the election results were finalized, but that it’s important for everyone to process the results of the election in their own way.
“The first 24 hours I was in shock, and then I got pissed,” Ciaurro said. “And I wanted to do something but couldn’t. But I’m happy that the first event that I went to was something more peaceful and about an outpour of love and compassion.”
Rafael Rolon, an alumnus, said the news of the election has been “scary in general,” and that most protests regarding the election had been far more aggressive than Saturday’s vigil.
“It definitely was nice to go see that there’s this same sort of thing where it’s a lot more peaceful,” Rolon said. “There is a lot of different kinds of voices getting involved in this and that’s more important.”
Carly Aquino, a junior, stressed the importance of becoming allies to marginalized groups.
“White people need to learn how to be allies,” Aquino said. “We can’t be the loudest voices. We need to boost up silenced voices.”