Students in Madera left their classes in droves to protest the election of businessman Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.
The students, carrying signs with such slogans as, “#NotMyPresident,” and “F—k Donald Trump,” protested for 45 minutes on the street corner of Memorial Courthouse Park on Monday. Several times each minute, passing cars would honk, causing the protestors to cheer for their supporters. Occasionally, the students would step over the curb, at which point the police would order them to back up.
“We feel like, as the minority, and as we are too young to vote, we didn’t have the right to stand up for what we felt was right,” said Nathan Konkle, a Madera High sophomore. “And so we’re showing that today by protesting with our signs, and with other people.”
Though Konkle didn’t believe that protests would stop President-elect Trump from taking office, he expressed hopes that the protests would gain his attention, and, as Konkle put it, would “humble” him.
“I’ve had family members that were talking about how they could be deported because they’re illegal aliens,” Konkle said. “And just some of the things that he’s done, that he talks about. Some of those things, I don’t believe in.”
Konkle stated that he was also unsatisfied with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and that if she had won, he would have protested against her as well.
“I’m out here because my mother and my father are out here from Mexico,” said Dannette Marquez, a freshman from Madera South. “And they fought hard to get here, and it was not easy to get their papers, and for me, even though I’m an American, it means a lot to me and my culture.”
Marquez also voiced her frustrations for those who voted for third-party candidates,
“Third party voters shouldn’t have voted third party,” Marquez said. “They didn’t have a chance. They should’ve gone with something that’s stronger.”
“Both candidates were terrible,” said Konkle. “But because candidates like Gary Johnson and Bernie Sanders were just like the minority, everybody wanted somebody who was famous. It didn’t really work out properly.”
Providing protection for the event was a joint effort for both the Madera Police Department and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, who were alerted roughly an hour before the event.
“We started to get wind from our school officers,” said Madera Police Lt. Gino Chiaramonte. “We had this information that stuff was being passed around on Facebook regarding this incident.”
According to Chiaramonte, there were roughly a hundred at the height of the protest. He also stated that despite their passions, they respected the law throughout the demonstration.
“They just wanted their voice to be heard; they came out, they made signs, and their voice was heard,” Chiaramonte said. “But they did everything within the law, outside their minor violations for leaving school. But they were very cordial, and stayed on the sidewalk, and we didn’t have any issues.”
Transportation was also provided to any student who wanted to return to class.
“For us, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County of Madera, our responsibility is the park, so our purpose in being here was to protect the kids while they were in the park, and to protect the county facilities,” said Madera County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Tyson Pogue. “Inside the park, we didn’t have any violations or any issues.”
Around 1:30 p.m., the protest ended, with the remaining students loaded on a bus to return to their schools at the request of law enforcement.
According to Madera Unified School District Superintendent Ed Gonzalez, no efforts were made to physically stop the students from attending the protest, but they were notified in advance that they would be marked with an unexcused absence from class.