Trump’s election-eve visit met with student organized protests
Several community members gathered in front of Kent Library to prepare protest signs on the dark and rainy night before midterm elections in November.
Days before, a Facebook group had been created by Southeast students Lindie Perry and Karma Alvey to gather protesters after news broke that President Donald Trump would be speaking at the Show Me Center.
Alvey said the protest was a chance for their voice to be heard against the “hateful rhetoric” of the president.
“I think we’re all just here to say enough is enough, we don’t need that kind of speech, we don’t want that kind of speech here,” Perry said.
The Facebook page, titled Progressives of SEMO, called for protesters to meet at Kent Library at 6 p.m. on Nov. 5 in order to march through campus to the Show-Me Center to protest as the doors opened for the Trump rally.
“We’re just a group of people who cumulatively feel that his values do not represent what we represent as citizens of Cape Girardeau,” Alvey said. “It’s just sort of us with the same sort of idea, getting together and demonstrating these are the things we believe in and they differ what he believes and what he’s demonstrated.”
Protest signs touched on topics from the war on drugs, to women’s rights, to LGBTQ+ rights.
The protest march took off from the library steps, weaving through campus towards the Show Me Center. The protesters eventually came to the walking bridge over New Madrid Street, which was blocked by police. They were forced to take a detour, eventually settling on the sidewalk of New Madrid, downhill from the Show Me Center.
Southeast student protester Caleb Ellenburg said he participated in order to let his voice be heard.
“It’s not often that the president comes right across the street from where you live, so you have a chance to show him how you feel and you have a chance tomorrow to go vote and show the country how you feel,” Ellenburg said.
The Progressives of SEMO protesters joined with another protest closer to the Show Me Center doors around 7 p.m.
At this new location protesters were much more visible to rally attendees. This inspired several chants of “no justice, no peace,” “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “trans rights are human rights,” which were countered by a small group of attendees in line with chants of “USA.”
Not all protesters were students. Former high school teacher and current election judge Liz Lockhart also came to be heard.
“Hope. Hope brings me out here. Hope that we can make a difference that we can turn things around,” Lockhart said.
Many rally attendees stopped to take photos of the protesters, causing occasional confrontations between protesters and attendees.
Around 7:30 p.m. the protesters were moved downhill, closer to where the protests began. A police officer explained to the crowd the move was made as “a secret service call.”
Soon protesters were greeted by wandering guitarist Liam Ohlendorf, who insisted he was not a protester, but just hanging out.
He stood in front of the protesters strumming his guitar, making jokes and singing songs to his adopted audience.
Protesters kept chanting occasionally, and holding up rain-soaked signs as the night went on.
Southeast student Cole Kennedy said he believed the protest was about promoting positivity rather than negativity.
“I’m here because I want people to know that it’s time to start spreading some more love and less hate,” Kennedy said.