Around 1,000 people marched behind a banner reading, “Salt Lake to Stop Trump, End White Supremacy” Friday night, hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Headed by the University of Utah’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the protest began at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building and wound through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City until the crowd arrived at the Capitol.
Law enforcement lined the sidewalks as chants like, “Education not deportation!” and “Give Trump hell, it is right to rebel!” echoed through the streets.
Abby Stover, a student at the U and a member of SDS, headed the protest. She pointed to actions by the Bush and Obama administrations and said that Trump’s inflammatory policies are not new.
“Change only takes time when the people in power don’t want it to happen,” Stover said. “If we want to see change in this country, we need to do it by organizing.”
Carrying pride flags, and flags donning the Communist hammer with a sickle and Anarchist Circle-A, demonstrators at one point occupied the intersection of South Temple and Main Streets, blocking a UTA Trax line and halting all vehicular traffic.
As the march headed up State Street toward the capitol, residents of apartments watched from their balconies while some yelled at protesters.
“F— Trump!” rang out in the frigid air as the group ascended the stairs to the Capitol. Participants in the demonstration squeezed onto the steps and overflowed onto the lawn. Speakers drew roars from the crowd as they expressed their frustrations with the government and Trump administration.
“We’re not going to sit around and wait for some politician to save us,” said Doug, a member of SDS who asked only to be identified by his first name. “We know that it’s on us – it’s on all of us – to build power in the streets, to take what we deserve from whoever is in [the State Capitol] and whoever is in the [United States Capitol] 3,000 miles away. They’ve never given us anything until we made it impossible for them to say no.”
Some protesters burnt an American flag, showing their disdain for the current political system. Trump supporters confronted people leaving the rally, resulting in arguments, but not physical violence. After the crowd dispersed, there were signs left stuck in the ground. One of them read, “Welcome to fascist America.”
Sean Taylor, a spokesperson for SDS, said “We’re here to show that we’re going to proactively resist Trump’s agenda. [Trump] is not ready for the amount of resistance he’s going to receive.”
According to Taylor, Trump’s stance on undocumented immigrants is the most concerning part of his agenda for students at the U. SDS is currently petitioning the U to become a sanctuary campus for undocumented students and have collected 600 signatures in support so far. The group holds weekly meetings on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Union room 319, where they discuss and plan ways to resist what they feel are injustices facing the community.
“I think that one protest isn’t going to do a lot, but when people come together in a prolonged struggle there can be change,” said Taylor. “I hope this event will get people involved and make them realize that change can be enacted by groups outside the political establishment.”