By Alex Eng and Ryan Grewal, news staff
Thousands gathered at the Boston Common Friday evening to protest the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump and to denounce his proposed policies on immigration, education and the economy.
The rally, organized by the Boston Socialist Alternative, was attended by more than 3,000 people, said Toya Chester, a Boston Socialist Alternative member and an organizer for the rally. There were no arrests or injuries at the protest, said Officer James Kenneally, a Boston Police Department (BPD) spokesperson.
A pickup truck driven by organizers led a march around the perimeter of the Common as chanting rally-goers followed with picket signs reading “Fascism is not freedom” and “Trump≠us.”
“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here! Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here,” protesters chanted to the rhythm of four drummers that closely trailed the pickup truck. “Money for jobs and education, not for mass deportation!”
BPD officers and Massachusetts State Police troopers blocked off portions of Charles Street and Beacon Street near the Common to oncoming traffic as protesters marched through the streets.
The protesters planned to march to City Hall, but BPD stopped protesters just outside the Government Center T stop after there was a disagreement over the group’s protest permit.
“Because we have working families here, because we have children here, because we have undocumented workers here, we are going to finish up here,” Chester said.
Speakers at the event framed the protest as evidence of the widespread opposition to the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.
“This [protest] shows that Donald Trump does not have the mandate to rule,” said Andy Moxley, a Boston Socialist Alternative regional organizer. “He is an illegitimate president.”
Nicole Sullivan of Boston Feminists for Liberation said people need to actively fight several societal institutions in addition to resisting Trump.
“This world does not have to exist this way. Capitalism can fall,” she said. “White supremacy will fall. Male supremacy will fall. Trump will fall.”
Jose Perez of the immigrant activism Boston May Day Committee said the proposed immigration policies by the president were unjust for undocumented immigrants.
“Let’s all stand together in solidarity with the working families who are seeking refuge from violence and a better life for their children,” he said in a speech translated from Spanish. “No human being is illegal.”
Earlier on Friday, UNITE HERE Local 26 union members, including Northeastern University dining hall workers, walked out of their jobs in protest during Trump’s inauguration. Students from Huskies Organizing With Labor (HOWL) joined Northeastern workers in the walkout.
Northeastern dining hall worker Heidy Barreiro, who also spoke at the rally on the Common, said she walked out during the inauguration because Trump’s proposed immigration policies would unfairly treat undocumented immigrants.
“Workers at Northeastern went on strike in support of immigrant rights because we’re a part of this society and this country’s economy,” she said in a speech translated from Spanish. “We are a strong union, we are in the fight and we are going to continue to struggle against Trump’s negative policies.”
Tiara McGuire, a junior creative writing major at Emerson College, commended Northeastern students for participating in the walkout and said young people need to unite to prompt change.
“Trump can be defeated if we organize this resistance into a powerful mass movement,” she said. “Building a powerful united movement to stop Trump means not being afraid to openly demand what our communities need to live just, healthy and dignified lives.”
Protesters expressed frustration and fear regarding the new Trump presidency.
“My biggest concern is that the hateful rhetoric he’s been spewing will worsen the culture we have and make people more comfortable with attacking minorities,” said Alvin Merlos, a senior English major at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Scituate resident Elizabeth Stokes said Trump’s “America First” policies would be detrimental to the country.
“I don’t want us to be isolationist. It’s not who we are,” she said. “We need to have empowerment […] maybe this is just what we needed. We can’t get complacent. I’m really amazed that we’re finally doing something.”
As the two-hour protest came to an end, activists began laying out the next steps in what they saw as the beginning of a mass movement against Trump, capitalism, the two-party system and bigotry.
“This is just the beginning,” said Spencer Brown, an activist with Boston Democratic Socialists of America. “Looking around, so many of us are already here, and we will keep coming. And there will be more of us.”
Photo by Alex Melagrano