Since Donald Trump was elected president on 8 November, thousands of people across the U.S. have taken to the streets to protest. The anti-Trump sentiment has quickly spread overseas: similar placards, chants and speeches have popped up in places like Mexico City, Manila, London, Berlin and now Leipzig.
Peaceful anti-Trump protesters came together in front of the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig on the evening of 15 November.
Their placards bore messages such as the famous “Dump Trump” and “Not My President,” and also “Please grab climate change by the pussy!!!,” “NO Trump Petry Le Pen Wilders” and “Make the Earth great again.”
The American Kate Tyndall, LeipGlo columnist and one of the protest’s organizers, said the demonstration was not against the elections, but against what Trump has stood for. She said she was happy to see so many people in Leipzig come out and be energized and grateful to have a platform to vent their anger.
“It was great to hear so many personal stories,” she said. This show of support was a nice counter to the hate speech that she has already encountered on social media and in comments sections over her anti-Trump activism.
Despite the atrocious weather conditions, about 50 people attended the 15 November protest. Some of them were expats, and showing solidarity to their fellow Americans back home, but many of them were Germans. Trump’s election is part of a trend towards the far right that is scaring many Europeans, and now many Americans as well.
“This is a wake-up call,” says the demonstration’s Facebook page.
“Look around you and see how quickly the right radicalizes – the ‘impossible’ has happened in England, in America, and it can happen in Germany too. We are against the values of Trump, of Orban, of Erdogan, of Le Pen, of Petry, and of all others who seek to divide us with fences, walls, and words. (…) We will not allow walls to be built, we do not believe that climate change is a conspiracy, we will not allow world citizens to be belittled, called illegal, or forced to change. “
A young German man and Slovenian woman who study American Studies at Leipzig University both joined the demonstration.
He was concerned that Trump would reverse all that President Barack Obama has managed to accomplish, including boosting the image of the U.S. abroad.
She could see what happened in the U.S. happening in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, too, “even though we like to think we’re more progressive.”
An Oklahoman studying Cultural Studies in Leipzig said he was protesting because Trump’s stances could lead to persecution of certain groups in the U.S., like with McCarthyism in the 1950s. He describes himself as “very leftist” and is afraid that he won’t be able to return to his homeland. He’s also afraid for his sister, a member of the LGBTQ community, and for his diverse friends living there right now.
An American journalist said he also fears he won’t have a place to return to – with his same-sex partner.
During a short speech at the protest, the New Yorker said he and his partner moved to Germany four years ago so that they could marry – before same-sex marriage was legalized at the federal level in the U.S. last year. This progress could be undone, as well as pillars of the separation between Church and State, he said, referring to some of Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign promises.
A Texan who teaches English in Leipzig said he’s worried about what the Supreme Court appointments under the Trump presidency could mean for all kinds of minority and vulnerable groups.
Not everyone present at the Leipzig protest agreed with the demonstrators. An East German accompanying his girlfriend said he thinks they lack an agenda, unlike the Peaceful Revolution, in which he participated in 1989. In his opinion, they would put their time and intelligence to better use if they sat down and talked about solutions to the problems in the system. It was this failed system that led to Trump’s election in the first place, he said – like the dire poverty he witnessed in the streets during a visit to the U.S.
Trump lost the popular vote (by a growing margin as votes continue to be counted) but won the electoral college vote over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. She won among blacks, Latinos and young people of all backgrounds, but lost among white men AND white women, and among those over 45 years old. Almost half of all eligible voters in the U.S. did not vote at all, however.
Visiting Germany over the past week, President Obama encouraged protesters to express their discontent, and not to take the privileges of democracy for granted, including voting.
The Leipzig protest’s organizers intend to continue their work. They are planning another demonstration for 21 January, 2017, simultaneously and in solidarity with the Million Woman March against Trump’s inauguration in D.C.