October 27, 2016

Progressives gather to protest presidential debate


Photos by Emily van de Riet, video by Sara Bannoura 

A large group of protesters made their way from Delmar Blvd. to Washington University on Oct. 9, temporarily blocking streets in a quest to make their voices heard.

The protest, organized by “Fight for 15” protestors advocating for a $5 minimum wage, also attracted a variety of other left-leaning groups expressing their distaste for one or both of the presidential candidates.

Nicole Davis, one of the Fight for 15 advocates, said she was protesting because she did not believe either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton shared her concerns — higher minimum wage, rights for unions, more schools, and less prisons.

“I think we’re just really voting for the lesser of two evils,” Davis said. “If you want our votes, come get our votes, don’t give us no more broken promises. That’s what they’re doing.”

Many protesters were vocal about not supporting either presidential candidate. A contingent of supporters of Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, led chants calling Clinton a liar.

Lonnie Less, a Stein supporter, said he would like to see his preferred candidate in the third debate.

“We don’t like the Clinton campaign and we certainly don’t like the other side,” Less said. “We’re supporting a new deal, a Green new deal.”

Other protesters, however, felt that Clinton did understand their passion.

Cheryl Trueblood came to the protest with a contingent of former Schnuck’s Grocers employees, hoping to raise awareness for a boycott protesting the company’s recent layoff. Her husband is one of those who lost his job. Trueblood said while her family’s economic future is uncertain, she believes Clinton’s campaign speaks to her concerns.

“She is for the workers. She is for the people,” Trueblood said. “She wants, like all we all want, to be able to take care of our families, and we should have the right to do so. The greedy corporations, most of them have never known what it’s like for someone making minimum wage.”

Organizers for faculty unionization also participated. Washington University adjunct faculty member Eric Strobl said only Clinton had a platform that was friendly to union rights.

“When we unionized, we got better pay, better access to benefits, we were including in the university,” Strobl said. “So that’s one reason we’re here.”

Representatives from the American Civil Liberties were on hand to observe the protest and watch for violations of protestors’ right to free speech. Although police were on the scene, they did not obstruct the protest, which eventually turned down a residential street and continued to Washington University.

Closer to campus, the mood was different, as onlookers gathered with pro-Clinton signs.

Benjamin Hoover, a Clinton supporter, said he was confident in his candidate’s ability to win the debate and the election.

“Donald Trump’s just having fun,” Hoover said. “He doesn’t care nothing about that.”


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