Throughout the United States, as well as internationally in such cities as Toronto and Berlin, the election of Donald Trump has sparked a number of Protests. The signs, chants, speeches, and individual motivations of participants reflect a range of concerns about proposed policies and statements made throughout Trump's campaign regarding Muslims, immigrants, women, African-Americans, and other historically marginalized groups. Some protestors reference related personal behaviors and attitudes from before the campaign, including multiple accusations of sexual assault against Trump, going back many years. Conversely, many Trump supporters opining on the protests accuse participants of being "whiny" and "entitled," implicitly or explicitly impugning their general youth.

A personal account from Detroit

Despite being middle-aged myself, I was quite keen on participating in a demonstration upon hearing officially on Wednesday morning that Trump had won the presidency. I had an opportunity the next day, when a crowd of roughly a few hundred had gathered at Wayne State University for a 2.5 mile march, which ended near downtown Detroit at Hart Plaza. This was followed by roughly 90 minutes of brief (and a few long) speeches expressing diverse perspectives about the many troubling aspects of Trump's words and actions. This was followed by a march back to the campus. Wayne State and Detroit police departments acted very professionally in escorting and protecting us. Aside from a Trump supporter trying to grab a sign from a protestor, the demonstration proceeded without serious incident.

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Since that time, additional marches have occurred throughout the Detroit area, and more are planned to reinforce dissatisfaction and concern regarding the prospect of a Trump presidency.

Protests and "anti-Americanism"

After sharing my experience on Facebook, I received a comment from someone asking why I didn't remain in Canada if I didn't like the way American democracy works. This implied that protest against Trump's victory was not only petulant, but also a slap in the face to the U.S. itself. However, I see the demonstrations as being against the outcome of the election, not against democratic processes. As well, protest and peaceful assembly are forms of expression protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The protests in Detroit, as well as many others elsewhere, have lived up to the standard of being peaceful. One highly-publicized exception was a November 10th protest in Portland, where some agitators damaged property. However, they were very few in number, and the overwhelming majority of its 4,000 participants followed organizers' instructions to remain peaceful.

Furthermore, Portland's Resistance has started a GoFundMe campaign to help affected businesses with repairs.

The necessity of dissent

Along with other forms of dissent, public demonstrations remain important to maintaining a free and just country. This right is embedded in the First Amendment, and it has precedent in multiple movements over time that have risked much to vouchsafe a free and just country. The current emergence of demonstrations against Trump and the ongoing peaceful resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline also show that, far from being whiny and anti-American, large numbers of people want to do whatever they can to ensure that the U.S. lives up to its own values.