Students from Edwin O. Smith High School emphasized solidarity at a peaceful “Love Trumps Hate” demonstration in Storrs Center on Monday afternoon.
“Last Wednesday a lot of activists were born, don’t let it die,” EO Smith senior and event organizer Sophia Blush said. “In the wise words of Dr. Suess: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.’”
Over forty students and other community members gathered at noon in the town green, after receiving an early dismissal for teachers’ professional development. They marched from Storrs Center and then circled Mirror Lake at the nearby University of Connecticut.
“We were motivated by the hate that’s aroused by his supporters,” Blush said. “A lot of bad things have happened to minority groups since he’s been elected from Trump supporters. We want there to be intellectual discourse between everyone, and we want everyone to live in a loving environment whether he’s president or not.”
There haven’t been any particular incidents at EO Smith, but there have been arguments and attention to the events, co-organizer and high school senior Eliza Pelto said.
“You can definitely sense the tension in the town, the school, and the nation,” Pelto said.
Pelto added that she wanted this demonstration to be peaceful and positive.
“Wednesday morning a bunch of us got together and we all had strong feelings about what had just happened,” Pelto said. “We knew we had to do something about it because we’re the generation that has the power to do something about it. Me and Sophia had the idea to hold a peace rally rather than an anti-Trump rally.”
Pelto said she prefered “Love Trumps Hate” because it has a positive, affirming message rather than the chant “Not My President” (that has been present at many similar demonstrations) or “those with profanities in them.”
The students carried signs displaying a variety of messages, including “Love Trumps Hate,” “We will not be silenced” and “We will get through this.” Some students also wore homemade t-shirts with “Love Trumps Hate” painted on the front.
Throughout the march, students called out chants, such as “Love trumps hate,” “This is what democracy looks likes,” “We will not be silence” and “My body, my choice.” Members of the community stopped to listen to their message, including one woman who handed out candy to the students marching by.
The march ended by returning to the green. Speaking before the crowd, Pelto and Blush said that they hoped the event would be a relief for people concerned by the election’s outcome.
“We were all really sad and felt that if we stood up for ourselves peacefully that’s what’s going to help us over the next four years,” Blush said.
The organizers clarified that this was not protesting the results of the election.
“I would say it’s a reaction to Trump’s election but not a protest to his election,” Blush said.
EO Smith senior Hannah Montgomery encouraged attendees to get involved in the political process by calling their representatives, listening to those with other opinions and staying informed.
“if you want change you’re going to have to work for it, so be your own hero,” Montgomery said.
She added that not everyone in her school agree with her or about the demonstration.
“There are some kids in school who don’t support the same things that I stand for, and some of them may laugh about what we organized, but it doesn’t really bother me.”
EO Smith junior Llorisse Serrant said he was motivated to participate out of concern for his little brother.
“My friend circle, they’re really into this. I’m really into this, and for someone like my brother, I feel like it’s really important,” Serrant said. “He’s younger and he’s growing into this generation, so I feel like that’s really important to him to be growing into a good society that promotes equality.”
Mitzi Horowitz, a sociology professor at UConn, said she came to support her daughter Rachel, a senior at EO Smith participating in the rally.
“It’s really sad. She had a lot of hope that Hillary Clinton would be president,” Dr. Horowitz said. “She had the shot glasses, the buttons, the t-shirts, and we sent money. We cried a lot that night. I’m glad she was able to connect with friends and feel empowered. And I feel a little lighter too.”
Rachel Horowitz said she disagreed with Trump’s policies, particularly on civil liberties.
“People who were so excited when marriage equality was made law are now afraid that during an unchecked Republican presidency, senate and house, that all of the gains that minority groups, women, and the LGBT community can just be completely erased with one presidency,” she said.
Blush and Pelto said they received a great deal of support from their fellow students and community members.
“It was surprisingly easy [to organize],” Pelto said. “All the people around here helped in some way or another.”
Eliza Pelto’s father Jonathan, who recently ran for U.S. Congress as a Green Party candidate, said he was proud of his daughter and inspired by the student demonstrators.
“I had started out in politics at a young age, and while one doesn’t enter it for the money I’ve learned over the years that the reward one gets from standing on principle is invaluable,” Mr. Pelto said. “I’m extremely proud as a parent and as a citizen to see these kids standing for what they believe in; in this dark time it gives me a sense of hope that all of us need to hold onto.”
Eliza said she was happy to see how many of her classmates come out to the event.
“I was concerned that maybe they wouldn’t care so much or feel that they don’t have a voice,” she said. “I was glad to see how many high students come out.”
“It’s many of these students whose parents were passionate about these same things back when they were kids,” Pelto said.
Emma Casagrande is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.