Students protest in California, Maryland, Arizona, Seattle
In Los Angeles, demonstrators march with Mexican and American flags
At 17 years old, Maryland high school senior Samuel Kebede didn’t get to vote in this year’s historic election for president of the United States.
Instead, he found another way to make his voice heard, along with other students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.
They were among thousands of high school students who walked out of class across the country on Monday. Demonstrations are expected to continue Tuesday on college campuses.
Many said they have no illusions of reversing the outcome that led to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. If anything, they hope to Trump and his supporters to ease their hardline rhetoric around immigration and mass deportations, Muslim bans and LGBTQ rights.
“I just wanted to voice my concerns that Donald Trump should not continue to use racial slurs to demean other races and cultures,” Kebede said.
“I want people to know that although we are high schoolers with a lot to learn, we, too, are affected by the outcome of the election and want to show our support in the ways we can until we are able to go to the polls.”
Montgomery Blair High School students organized the walkout on social media, leading an exodus of hundreds shortly after 10 a.m., he said.
They began at the high school football field and walked about 6 miles through the city to Veterans Plaza, he said. Some drivers high-fived students as they passed, CNN affiliate WJLA reported.
Kebede knows that not all Trump supporters were motivated by racism or bigotry to vote for him. However, during Trump’s campaign, he “appealed to the worst in people,” opening wounds “that have not healed yet,” Kebede said.
“That is why I protest, to let him know that even though he has become our future president, the bigotry and hatred will not be tolerated.”
Monday marked the sixth day that anti-Trump protesters across the United States have taken to the streets, drawing participation from many students who did not even cast a ballot.
Most of the protests have been peaceful. But Portland, Oregon, has been the site of the most violent anti-Trump demonstrations, with a shooting and the arrest of 71 people on Saturday.
Critics accuse the protesters of being sore losers and criticized students for skipping classes.
Protesters say they’re upset about Trump’s positions on immigration, the environment and LGBT rights, among other issues. Some have questioned the legitimacy of the President-elect’s victory, noting that although Trump won the required number of votes in the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
Since Election Day, many have expressed fears of bigotry and racial violence against minorities, amid incidents of harassment, slurs and hate crimes. In an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Trump told his supporters to stop the harassment, and that he would, “bring this country together.”
As for the demonstrations against him, Trump has said reaction to them represents a “double standard” and blamed the media for inciting them.
“If Hillary had won and if my people went out and protested, everybody would say, ‘Oh, that’s a terrible thing.’ And it would have been a much different attitude.”
West Coast walkouts end peacefully
As protests dwindled Monday afternoon in the East, activity picked up across the country.
In Seattle, about 5,000 students from 20 middle and high schools participated in a walkout, Luke Duecy with Seattle Public Schools told CNN affiliate KOMO. Students said they’re worried about Trump’s stances on immigration and religion.
“We aren’t rejecting that Donald Trump won this election,” a Garfield High School senior told KOMO. “We are here to tell Trump that we have an agenda he needs to meet if he wants to represent America.”
Seattle Police made three arrests from Monday’s protests, none of them were students.
Student walkouts in Portland and several San Francisco Bay Area cities ended peacefully.
“I would give [Trump] a chance if he would give us a chance,” Martha Placentia, an Oakland, California, high school student told CNN affiliate, KPIX. “But he’s not giving us a chance. He’s basically saying ‘All you guys are criminals.”’
‘Immigrants are welcome here’
Hundreds of high school students from at least six schools in East Los Angeles, home to a large Latino population, took to the streets chanting “No papers, no fear” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.”
Mendez High School student Arlene Contreras was one of the students holding a rainbow-colored sign in support of LGBTQ rights and civil rights of minority groups.
“I want to make a statement that we will not let Trump tell us what to do. We will not accept his sexism. His racism. We will not let him overpower women, LGBT, us minorities, people of color.”
She said she knows it will take the involvement of other government branches to implement such changes, “so I’m just keeping an eye out,” she said.
“I don’t want people to be blind. I want them to be alert and not let this just slide past their thoughts.”
School officials in Los Angeles said they supported students but encouraged them to stay on campus and not let demonstrations interfere with classroom activities.
“These are important conversations that need to take place. We want our students to know they are not alone,” Superintendent Michelle King said Monday. “However, it is critical that students not allow their sentiments to derail their education or for their actions to place them in danger.”
Demonstrators apparently ignored the request, waving Mexican and American flags and holding signs as they made their way past Grand Park and City Hall, shouting the classic protest chant, “Yes, we can” in Spanish – “Si, se puede.”
Most students walked out of classes with permission from their schools, but not everyone, said Karter Flores, a senior at Alliance Leichtman-Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science High School. She and her classmates skipped school to attend.
A transgender teen who came out one month ago, she’s frustrated that she has to live with the election’s outcome even though she had no say in it. She worries that the Trump administration could make policy changes that will make her gender transition harder. ”
“We are going to have to live with this outcome for the next four years. We want a peaceful American future.”
CNN’s Alexander Leininger, Madison Park, Sara Sidner and David Williams contributed to this report.