Jul 12, 2020
Roque Armenta (left) chanting at the Trump rally on the corner of Blackstone and Ness at River Park on Nov. 19, 2016. The rally was put together in response to Donald Trump becoming President-elect. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian).

A march to fight against racism and the ‘downhill slide’ for America

The political unrest continues in Fresno as almost 100 protesters assembled at the corner of Blackstone and Nees avenues in front of River Park Saturday at noon for another Rally and March Against Trump.

The protesters held signs. Some read: “Progression not Regression,” “The White House is not a locker room,” and “ICE out of Fresno.” They chanted: “Liberation not deportation,” “When women are under attack what do we do? Stand up, fight back,” and “The people united will never be defeated.”

The rally and march was coordinated by Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action. It’s goal was to create a space for people who are going to be directly impacted by a Donald Trump administration, a place where they are able to connect with others who are like-minded, said spokesman Luis Ojeda.

“We are bringing together people of color, undocumented folks, Muslims, queer, trans folks and other people that we know are going to suffer under this administration. We are here to remind them and let them know that they are not alone, and we will continue fighting for all of us,” Ojeda said. “We are committed to making sure that over the next four years there isn’t a rubber stamp on Trump’s policies but instead there is an active resistance. We are on the right side of history, and we are going to continue fighting the policies that Donald Trump is proposing.”

As an undocumented queer person of color, Ojeda is committed to ensuring that his voice is heard and that others are inspired.  

“Seeing stories of kids being taunted at school, getting their hijabs pulled off and others getting fake deportation letters at school which used to be unacceptable are now happening publicly because they feel empowered. They feel that this is now Trump’s America, and they can be openly racist,” Ojeda said, “and for us that is not OK, and we are not going to stand for it. We are not going to allow it, and we are going to continue fighting against these issues.”

Another protester, Steve Claassen, a Fresno State alumnus, said he was not going to stand by and see his country “go in the wrong direction.”  

“We have a future president who is doing things that are scary, saying things that are scary and promising things that are scary, and I don’t think he represents America,” Claassen said. “He doesn’t have the mandate to round up all the Mexican-Americans, to target all the brown-skinned people, to round up Muslims and put them in concentration camps until they are extreme vetted.

“This is not America; this is Germany in the 1930s. These are the first steps to a downhill slide that has no happy ending. We want to stop it here.”

An hour into the march, the protesters descended down Blackstone toward the entrance on West El Paso Avenue into the River Park Shopping Center.

Angel Sanchez, a student from Fresno City College, marched with his sign which read: “Undocumented and Unafraid.” He explained that for him the march was a way for him to show his discontent with the outcome of the election because Donald Trump is the opposite of what America is.

“He is a racist, a white supremacist, and he doesn’t really care about the minorities in this country. Personally, because America is a country made of immigrants, I think his point of view is very backwards because immigrants are what make this country what it is,” Sanchez said. “Most people aren’t affected by what he says so they don’t really take a stand, but once he starts doing things that affect them then it will be too late. A president should inspire unity, love and respect in people not empower them to yell what they are yelling at me right now.”

Through their trek, the protesters received supportive honks and thumbs up, but also were shouts of “Go Trump,” “I voted for Trump” and “Get out of my country you immigrants,” from passersby.

The protesters continued marching into the shopping area passing Rubio’s, GMC and H&M as they received stares and claps from the customers. There finally stopped in front of the Edwards Fresno 22 & IMAX.

“We are committed for the next four years to making noise. We are committed for the next four years to making people uncomfortable,” Ojeda said as he addressed those who had begun to stop and listen. “What we want is for each and every one of you to join us, to come together and fight a Donald Trump administration because our lives are literally at stake.”

The people in line for the theater, those who were eating and shopping began to come out of the stores and see what the noise was. About 50 of those patrons stopped to hear what the protesters were saying.

“Two to three million undocumented people will be deported. Obamacare will be gone. Folks will lose their health care. People will have to cross state lines to get reproductive health access,” Ojeda continued. “The only way we are going to change this country, the only way we are going to move in a better direction, is if we come together and fight each and every step of the way.”

After a few minutes speaking, the marchers then walked back to the corner of Blackstone and Nees and continued their protest.

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