UNM students block Central, protest Trump - Albuquerque Journal

UNM students block Central, protest Trump

JIM THOMPSON JOURNAL Protestors gathered outside the UNM bookstore on Wednesday about 3 p.m. to protest the election of President Donald Trump.
JIM THOMPSON JOURNAL
Protestors gathered outside the UNM bookstore on Wednesday about 3 p.m. to protest the election of President Donald Trump.

Several hundred people marched and chanted through the University of New Mexico and briefly blocked Central Avenue traffic Wednesday afternoon during a protest of President-elect Donald Trump.

The protest was one of more than 80 conducted on college campuses nationwide calling on administrators to protect undocumented students when Trump becomes president.

“We call on UNM to do everything in its power to protect undocumented students,” one person shouted during the protest.

Earlier in the day, nearly 200 Albuquerque Academy students chanted “Not my president!” as they marched outside the school in a rally against “hate, prejudice and fear mongering that has been legitimized by Trump’s election.”

The protest at UNM was peaceful, said UNM Police Department spokesman Lt. Tim Stump. Some observers shouted at protesters, and one man seemed upset that protesters were blocking traffic.

The protest was both a condemnation of Trump, marked by shouts of “Dump Trump” and “Not my president,” and an attempt to rally the UNM community against racism, according to protesters.

Many protesters interviewed by the Journal feared Trump’s disparaging statements on the campaign trail about Mexican and Muslim immigrants could embolden racists. They also feared Trump’s policies would mean the deportation of undocumented students.

Hundreds gathered in front of the UNM Bookstore about 3 p.m. The crowd – holding signs that said “Deport no one” and “Make UNM a sanctuary” – then snaked through the UNM campus and briefly paused in front of Scholes Hall, which is home to President Bob Frank’s office.

The protesters, still chanting as passers-by took pictures, then surged back to the bookstore and then onto Central Avenue. They marched westward on the street to University before turning onto eastbound Central. They then walked back to campus.

The protest dispersed around 5 p.m. just as darkness fell on campus.

The march included members of minority advocacy groups, such as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, a Chicano group; and the Kiva Club, a Native American student group.

Tensions at UNM have been high since the election after a vandal or vandals used graffiti to link Trump to Nazis the week of the election. Also last week, a Muslim student reported that a man wearing a Trump shirt tried to rip the hijab from her head.

Serene Akkad, 21, president of the UNM Muslim Student Association, said she was marching to show “It’s not OK to spew hate.”

At Albuquerque Academy, Alex Baca, a 17-year-old junior, told the crowd he was standing against “racism, sexism and all the other horrible things a certain presidential candidate has decided to base his campaign on.”

Hundreds of Albuquerque Academy students walk out to protest against Trump

“In May of this year, I heckled Donald Trump at his Albuquerque rally,” he said. “I did not think I was going to be heckling our next president, I thought I was heckling someone who was moot. I trusted our country a lot more than I should have, clearly.”

Jordan Hearn, 16, described first-hand experiences with racism.

“Growing up, I have been physically attacked and ridiculed for the color of my skin, and when I tell people, they can’t believe it because apparently segregation ended in 1945,” said Hearn, who is African-American.

The sophomore said Trump has practiced segregation in his business dealings and that she was disappointed he was chosen as the nation’s next president.

Academy staff did not help with the rally or encourage or discourage participation, according to school head Andrew Watson.

A number of instructors walked alongside students, but none addressed the crowd. Two teachers approached by the Journal directed questions to Watson.

In a prepared statement, Watson advocated for dialogue.

“We encourage open minds, caring hearts and engaged citizenship on the part of all of our students, and we support and guide and watch them as this plays out amid the wide variety of opinions on campus,” he said.

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