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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

300 at Not-My-President's-Day March in Grand Rapids

Mariano Avila

About 300 people held a demonstration in Downtown Grand Rapids yesterday to protest President Donald Trump and his policies.

People showed up at 4:00 p.m. Monday for the "Not-my-president’s-day demonstration," called by the Facebook group Indivisible West Michigan. By 4:30, about 150 people brake into civil right’s songs.

The chants begin by invoking the right to protest.

[Call: “Tell me what democracy looks like”]

[Response: “This is what democracy looks like]

Then come chants decrying the administration’s immigration and refugee policies.

[Call: No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.]

[Response: No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.]

After a few chants, things get patriotic.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America...”

But Rachel Blair, one of the demonstrators, says she came out primarily because of how she feels about President Trump.

“He did not win the popular vote, he was not the people’s choice. He’s racist, he’s sexist, he’s anti-gay, and his administration is not what America is about.”

So I start looking for dissent, and I strike out several times. Until I hear Charles Edkins,  who doesn’t mind being the lone voice shouting the president’s name. So I asked him what he thinks.

“Most of these people don’t even work.

-“How do you know?”

-“I can tell, I can tell by the population. This guy over here with the thing in the back of his head, he doesn’t work.”

-“What makes you think he doesn’t work?”


-“I don’t know him, so…”

-“I just can tell…”

The demonstration then becomes a march to the Calder Plaza, and by the time they arrive, I count close to 300 people. People honk their horns or shout their disagreement as they drive by. But everyone exercises their freedom of speech without any incidents.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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