A rally at Texas State University to protest Donald Trump’s presidential election victory drew hundreds of students Thursday and joined several other similar protests that have sprung across the country in the last two days.
Students congregated around the university’s Fighting Stallions statue for more than nine hours. Campus police officers at the scene estimated that, at one point, about 600 students were in attendance. Students had tense discussions, one of which appeared to have almost erupted into a fight and required police to intervene. At another point a man was escorted out of the campus after trying to burn an American flag.
Students carried Mexican and rainbow flags as well as signs that read “I want to feel safe,” “we shall overcome” and “down with the white supremacy.” The crowd often broke into cheers like “love trumps hate” and sang the national anthem.
“I think the goal of the event is to show unity and for us to stand as a front and show there is a safe place at Texas State. Even with the election,” said Elva Chavez, a senior psychology major. “It’s happened, and there’s nothing we can do about it. But we can still change things during the next election. We can vote and make our voices heard.”
Priscilla Cortes, a senior business marketing major who was carrying a sign that read “I’m not a rapist. Trump is,” said she just wanted “to feel comfortable living here.”
“I was born and raised in Mexico, but I consider this my home too. It’s not that I don’t feel safe yet, but I don’t feel comfortable,” she said. “I feel like people will judge me more easily and maybe OK, racism has always been here, but he’s saying that it’s right, and it’s not.”
The rally also came one day after numerous threatening fliers were found glued on bathroom mirrors across the campus. One flier called for the creation of “tar and feather vigilante squads” to arrest and torture university leaders encouraging diversity. Others criticized affirmative action at universities and companies. Texas State police are investigating the fliers as a criminal matter.
Photos of the fliers spread quickly through the university’s community, as people discussed them in person, through email and on social media. Some speculated that the fliers were satirical, and but others said the university administration isn’t taking them seriously enough.
University President Denise Trauth condemned the fliers in an email to the university community.
“Texas State strives to maintain an atmosphere that protects free speech, but one that is respectful to other members of the Bobcat community,” Trauth wrote. “Threats absolutely have no place on our campus or in a free society.”
Thousands have held anti-Trump demonstrations across the country, from New England to Kansas City to the West Coast. Flames lit up the night sky Wednesday in California cities as protesters burned a giant papier-mache Trump head in Los Angeles and started fires in Oakland intersections.