The day following the 2016 presidential election some students were seen on campus wearing red, white and blue, “Make America Great Again” hats and other patriotic attire. BYU students, Jeremiah Poti, Trey Hall and Kyle Ke were instead found standing in front of the Joseph F. Smith Building with signs that read “Colored People Against Trump” and “Make America Hate Again.”
“Last night after the election I felt isolated and alone, even afraid,” Poti said. “There are those who even felt threatened that America would elect someone like Donald Trump.”
Poti started the peaceful protest Wednesday afternoon to help others with similar feelings know they are not alone. He was later joined by his roommates Hall and Ke.
“My goal is to bring comfort and solidarity to those out there who might have felt alone and afraid,” Poti said. “(We want) to contact them and let them know that they’re not the only ones out there feeling alone and feeling afraid and overall feeling threatened by America choosing Trump to be their president.”
Poti and Hall said they have been receiving positive and respectful feedback during their protests. They have received hugs, high fives, comments of people wanting to get involved and questions. There have been no cruel comments made.
“It’s been a positive experience,” Poti said. “I wouldn’t expect anyone on this campus to throw things.”
Hall said this issue is important to him, as he personally experienced prejudice from others because of his skin color. He feels Trump is tearing humanity against each other because of their race or gender, and not uniting the people despite differences.
“For somebody to just look at you and not like you because of the color of your skin, or because you’re a female, or because you’re not rich like him? It makes no sense,” Hall said. “This (isn’t) a black issue, a white issue, a brown issue; it’s an ‘us’ issue.”
Hall also said it isn’t as much of a Democrat or Republican issue as it is a community issue, and he wants other people to understand their opinions.
“Everyone’s entitled to their political views,” Hall said. “We’re not trying to persuade anyone to think how we think. This is … a humanity issue. It’s people trying to do the right thing.”
Chinese-born, Canadian-raised Ke thinks this issue is important despite being a Canadian citizen because of the close relationship Canada has with America.
“Canada works really tightly with the United States. Trump has talked about how he’s going to shut down some trade deals with certain countries, and the trade with the United States is a quarter of the Canadian economy,” Ke said. “He’s not just affecting the U.S.”
Ke said Trump’s election has tainted his view of the United States and why he chose to come here.
“I feel like being in the U.S. as a Canadian, I feel embarrassed,” Ke said “I started questioning my decision to come here. Why did I come to the U.S? It’s supposed to have freedom and the truth; the American dream. But I’m starting to question the American dream.”
Poti and Hall said they will be protesting every day this week, particularly during high traffic times of the day when more students will be on campus and moving between different classes.