November 14, 2016

Are we awake now?

Since election day a week ago, people have been protesting every night in the Bay Area and across the United States. I went to the demonstration yesterday, and want to share some impressions and photos. This family-friendly event on Sunday afternoon was called “Hands around Lake Merritt.” The goal was to bring out enough people to surround Lake Merritt, in the middle of Oakland, with a human chain. The lake has a loop of about 3.5 miles, and the event was announced through Facebook and Twitter. The organizers calculated that they needed around 4000 people. Many more showed up – somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people came. The event had a party atmosphere: people brought their own signs, or they created them on the spot with cardboards and colors provided by various groups. There were discussion groups, drumming, and even an “empathy tent,” to console people with strong emotional reactions. The event demonstrates that California diversity is beautiful, and it works. Many people from the LGBTQ communities were there, and everyone came together for one reason: the election results are unfair. Hillary won by 1.5 million votes or by roughly 1.5%, but loses the Electoral College. People also demonstrated against Trump, against racism or sexism, against the surge of the extreme right wing in America, and for minority and women’s rights.

Interestingly, there was no uniformed police in sight anywhere. I did not even see police cars in the side streets. The event had no central place, and there were no speakers, just a diversity of messages on signs and sidewalks. The symbolism of the event was simple but powerful: Waves of chanting and clapping went around the whole lake, and finally people held hands and connected in a gigantic circle for about 5 minutes.

When it was all over, I walked around the lake. The night came quickly, and a full moon rose over the hills. This “supermoon” happened last time in 1948, when the moon was closest to the earth. It will happen next in 2034, and by then, Trump will hopefully be in the dustbin of history.