Boston students walk out, protest Trump


Boston Day and Night Academy student Luis Navarro leads the crowd in a chant while awaiting the return of the delegation sent into the State House.

Paxtyn Merten


Hundreds of Boston high school and university students walked out of classes Monday as part of a nationwide student movement against President-elect Donald J. Trump.

“We don’t accept Donald Trump’s policies,” said Keely Mullen, Northeastern senior political science major and Progressive Student Alliance member. “Overwhelmingly, young people have rejected Trump, and this is an important display of youth power.”

The students rallied at about 1 p.m. at Boston Common and marched to the State House and City Hall to demand that Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh protect public education and vulnerable students. Students also demanded that they make Massachusetts a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants, publicly stand with the Standing Rock protesters and denounce white supremacy movements.

The crowd grew from less than 30 people at 1:30 to approximately 200 by 2 p.m.

“Many of these students here didn’t have a say in the election, but it’s very important that our voices are heard,” said Adam Crellin-Sazama, 15, a Boston Latin School student. “I hope that us as youth are recognized, that we won’t be quiet over these next four years, that we have demands of Mayor Walsh and of the public schools that we need to be bet.”

Protesters chanted, “It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains” and “Youth united will never be defeated.”

“I want to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves,” said Luis Navarro, 16, a youth organizer and student at Boston Day and Evening Academy.  “Like the first walkout we did when the budget cuts were happening, it’s just to raise awareness to adults, to our parents, to anybody who feels like you can’t do what we’re doing now and proving a point — letting them know that our voice matters to us and our voice should matter to the community.”

Some students and adults held homemade cardboard and paper signs with statements such as “Protect Our Students,” “No Racists, No Bigots, No Sexists, No Supremacists,” “Liberal Democracy, Let Love Grow” and “Mike Pence would rather I be dead than queer.”

Several speakers stood in the Boston Common Parkman Bandstand and addressed the crowd of protesters, who were on the surrounding brick and grass.

Students and their allies then marched to the State House around 2:30 p.m. to protest on the front steps and send a delegation in to deliver their message to Baker. Along the way, they chanted many of the same phrases and added, “Stop the hate, stop the fear, immigrants are welcome here.”

“Marty Walsh said we shouldn’t be here today because this is a waste of time […] but I think he’s dead wrong,” University of Massachusetts Boston student Keegan O’Brien said to the crowd. “If there’s one lesson we can learn from the heroic struggle that just took place at Standing Rock, it’s that when we unite, when we come together and we struggle and we protest, we can win.”

As a delegation was sent into the State House to deliver the message to Baker, protesters filled the steps in front of the building and spoke to the different perceived injustices people would face from a Trump administration, including privatization of public schools, deportation of undocumented immigrants and oppression of groups such as minorities, women and LGBTQA+ individuals.

Brookline High School graduate Asha Densmore, 18, told the crowd that the day after the election, a man wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat told her that she deserved to be raped because of what she was wearing.

“That was probably the most unsafe I’ve ever felt, just in daylight walking around my neighborhood,” Densmore said. “And then that night I came to the march throughout Boston and there were 7,000 people and we were all chanting. Women were chanting, ‘My body, my choice’ and allies were chanting, ‘Their body, their choice’ and I have never felt safe like that in a large group of men, especially at night.”

The crowd repeated the chant as she stepped back down into their midst.

Protesters marched through the middle of the street from the State House to City Hall, where many filed into the building and stood in the hall, at one point chanting, “Come out Marty.”

Walsh said later that students shouldn’t have walked out of class to protest.

“Every time there’s an issue, students can’t walk out of school,” Walsh said in a statement. “Many of these young people leaving class are going to be future leaders. I think that the best way of advancing causes is to stay in class and continue to get a good education. I think there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for us to work together and figure out how we move forward as a City and as a country. But right now, our children’s priority should be getting an education.”

During the marches, policemen followed along with students on bicycles and foot and directed street traffic. Several protesters greeted them enthusiastically or shook hands. Pedestrians recorded students from the sidewalks and made gestures in support of the students.

Students said they walked out and joined the protests because they wanted their voices to be heard and wanted to raise awareness of these issues in their communities and among youth.

I’m here today because it’s important and especially because youth is the most important,” Densmore said. “If you see the electoral map of how people [aged] 18 to 25 voted, almost our entire country is blue. So while it does make sense that people who have experience are in politics, it also makes sense that they should be taking input from the people who are going to be inheriting the country that they’re governing.”

Photos by Paxtyn Merten