Hundreds of incensed university students streamed through campus just after midnight Wednesday in a spontaneous, seething protest over the election of President-elect Donald Trump.
Shouting “Not our president,” “F--- Donald Trump,” and “f--- your border, f---your wall,” students marched from the campus library down Scholars Lane to the Cat Quad, where they gathered for several impromptu speeches from other students that expressed “rage” while also urging for “peace.”
With tears in her eyes, student Daniela Arias hugged several friends and said she was worried about an uncertain future. Trump’s campaign promises to deport undocumented residents and, at times, ugly anti-immigration rhetoric from some of his supporters, left her feeling angry and cut off, she said.
“My mother called me to tell me about (Trump’s win) and she’s upset; she’s concerned that she couldn’t live here anymore,” Arias said, wiping tears from her face. “And I didn’t know what to tell her because this is our home and it’s not OK that we’re not accepted here anymore.”
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Kieth Lemus, an 18-year-old sociology student, stood at the center of the crowd shouting Trump “may have won the presidency but he’ll never win our generation.”
While the billionaire businessman’s election was welcomed in some countries, others saw it as a big shock as governments will now have to deal with a man who has cozied up to Vladimir Putin, told NATO allies they would have to pay for their own protection and vowed to make the Mexican government pay for a multibillion-dollar border wall.
Trump’s win was particularly startling in Mexico, where his remarks calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” were a deep insult to national pride.
The president-elect, during his victory speech Wednesday morning, vowed to unify the deeply divided nation.
“I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump told supporters gathered in a Manhattan hotel near his Trump Tower campaign headquarters.
“For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country,” he said.
Trump swept most of the nation’s top battleground states, including Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. He also took down the Democratic Party’s “blue firewall” by scoring victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that haven’t supported a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and 1984 respectively.
But while Trump’s supporters were overjoyed, back in Merced County — where election records showed Trump losing by more than 3,000 votes to Hillary Clinton — many UC Merced students felt raw and angry.
“I’m out here because my parents are immigrants and he wants to build this un-American wall and it will hurt families; it will hurt people,” said Jasmine Alvarez, an 18-year-old psychology student.
“This man, all his campaign was driven by disrespecting the Hispanic community, the black community, the Muslim community,” Lemus told the Sun-Star after the rally. “This country is based on diversity of culture.”
Lemus said he encountered some Trump supporters during the protest, but the emotional gathering remained peaceful.
“They say they support him because he’s a better economic president and I think there’s some problems with that, but OK, that’s what you think,” he said. “What about all the horrible, derogatory things he said about women? He generalized the whole Latino community, saying we’re rapists, and criminal, and drug dealers.”
Lemus and other students like Florence Lucy Renteria, and Marissa Martinez, cautioned students to remain peaceful.
Joshua Ramirez-Cuadra, an 18-year-old business management student, was one of several young people urging others to return in the morning for a second protest at 10 a.m. in front of the campus library.
“Please, if you encounter a Trump supporter, keep it calm,” Lemus said. “Keep everything peaceful or our message will be lost.”
His appeal seemed to resonate with the noisy crowd. The roughly hour-long the gathering, while loud and angry, remained nonviolent. Several police officers arrived as the crowd was breaking up.
“We need peaceful protests,” Lemus said. “It’s time to put Merced on the map.”
Dozens of students said “we want our voices heard.”
“This is not over,” Renteria said. “This is just the beginning.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482