Several Dixie State University students, faculty and community members gathered Thursday night for a candlelight vigil and peaceful protest against President-elect Donald Trump’s victory Nov. 8.
The word “hope” was a common theme amongst the group at Vernon Worthen Park as they created signs bearing words like “unity” and “love.” Songs such as “Hallelujah,” “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful” were sung as white candles were lit.
Kathryn Syssoyeva, an assistant professor of theater arts, said she had been unsure of finding solidarity as she is not from St. George. She said she found herself longing for other places she has lived where feelings would be strong “about civil liberty, diversity [and culture] in terms of all variations of identity.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to find that place [of solidarity],” Syssoyeva said. “It was scary to walk into my place of work yesterday because I wasn’t sure if I would be alone in my grief. But Dannelle Larsen-Rife (an associate professor of psychology) reached out, local Democrats reached out, co-workers of mine reached out.”
Nicole Gregory, a junior history major from West Orange, New Jersey, and president of the DSU College Democrats, said she also had a tough day after the election, but she is also not done fighting against the policies and rhetoric of Trump.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders started a movement that needs to keep going, Gregory said.
“I have fear for my family,” Gregory said. “I have two lesbian grandmothers, I have gay dads, and I’m a woman…One of my best friends lives in Florida, and she didn’t want to leave her house yesterday because there were Trump supporters down the street having a celebration and yelling racist things.”
Syssoyeva said she has already also heard similar stories from her DSU students.
A friend of one of Syssoyeva’s students in California had gone to school the day after the election and had found young Latino and Latina children sobbing because they thought their mothers and fathers would have to return to Mexico, Syssoyeva said.
Teresa Salazar, a sophomore art major from Salt Lake City and a member of the DSU College Democrats, said she is also scared.
“I have a learning disability, and I feel like [Trump supporters] are going to chomp me up and spit me out,” Salazar said. “This is not a white country; this is everyone’s country. People are people.”
Gregory reminded those gathered that there is a petition going around encouraging voters in the electoral college to vote against Trump. She said in some states there is a fine for electorates who change their vote, but she said she believes there are people willing to help pay for the fine.
Gregory said she has already donated money to the Hillary Clinton campaign, which she said is more than she ever usually does.
“Really it was only like $30, but that’s a lot of money for me,” Gregory said jokingly. “(Usually) I’d rather go buy a new bra from Victoria’s Secret.”
The protest concluded with those gathered walking with their signs and candles up Main Street, singing songs of peace along the way.