Locals Step Up Activism in Wake of Trump’s Inauguration

Local activists are making their voice heard in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. (via CC0 Public Domain)

In the wake of what many agree was one of the most chaotic and fragmented presidential elections in American history, numerous protests and demonstrations have occurred within both the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida community.

On November 19, over 1,500 people attended a rally dubbed the “Freedom From Fear March.” The grassroots-led movement was a success; the attendance was greater than expected and, thanks to the large crowd, organizers seemed able to get their anti-Trump message across. Many of the protesters were local students from Santa Fe and UF concerned about the future of the country and particularly the rise of what they see as far-right movements that have witnessed a surge in international popularity over recent years.

But a lot of them were also longtime residents that have called Gainesville home for most of their life. One of the activists was Katharina Scholl, a local resident and first-time activist, who says she attended the march “because of her German heritage” and a “particular sensitivity to fascism.” The march lasted several hours and also saw Trump supporters walk side-by-side with anti-Trump demonstrators. According to the Gainesville Sun, a group called the Gainesville City of Resistance emerged in response to the presidential election. The organization says it will continue to lead protests at the local, state, and national level.

More recently, the National Women’s Liberation held their fourth annual Roe v. Wade benefit show in downtown Gainesville on January 28 to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the momentous Roe v. Wade decision. The National Women’s Liberation is a grassroots feminist group with chapters in Gainesville and New York City. Their goal is to bring attention to “reproductive justice” and expand access to safe abortion rights.

Emma Brady, who planned the organization’s fourth annual benefit show, labels their stance as “pro-person.” The issue, she believes, is not simply a matter of having a child or not, but about being able to raise a child. She believes childcare, paid family leave, and higher minimum wage laws to help “offer a proper societal pathway to reproductive justice” need to replace the current statutes that she sees as inadequate.

​Around 400 people from Gainesville attended the Women’s March in Washington on January 21. Approximately 1,000 protested right here in Gainesville, many participants having ties to local activist organizations like the National Women’s Liberation. Notably, the demonstrators made a point to march in front of local businesses known for their pro-life stances, such as Hobby Lobby known.

Apart from protesting, local organizations like Brady’s have reported a significant rise in the number of people attending their meetings; for instance, the NWL’s meetings normally number at around 20 or 30 people, but have seen upwards of 200 attendees in the aftermath of Trump’s inauguration.

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