By Sarah Toy
BU News Service
Hundreds of students walked out of Boston high schools and colleges on Monday to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign platforms and cabinet picks, marching to the Massachusetts State House and City Hall to lay out their grievances to Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker.
“We collaboratively decided on a list of five demands,” said co-organizer Michael Flowers, a senior at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The students want a public commitment from Walsh and Baker to support public education, protect minority students and their families, and denounce Trump’s connections to white supremacist movements. They also want continued local government support for Standing Rock and renewable energy sources, as well as a declaration of Boston and Massachusetts as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.
Jhalen Williams, a 19-year-old high school student at Excel Academy, said the walkout was a chance for students to make a difference in their communities. “We’re here today to change our society,” he said.
Students gathered in Boston Common before marching to the Massachusetts State House. Protesters waved signs saying “Build Bridges, Not Walls” and “Mike Pence Would Rather Me Be Dead Than Queer.” Massachusetts College of Art and Design students brought eye-shaped signs that they said signified accountability.
“They may be watching us, but we’re watching them,” said Megan Finn, a senior at the college.
A group of about 25 entered the State House to deliver the students’ list of demands to Governor Baker. However, he was unable to meet with them in person.
“We aren’t sure if he was in the building,” said Flowers. “We’re planning to reach out to him again with a smaller group of students.”
The students also marched to City Hall, shouting, “My body, my choice!” and “Racist, sexist, anti-gay! Donald Trump, go away!”
Inside City Hall, students chanted, “Come out Marty,” their collective voices echoing off the building’s walls.
At around 5 p.m., City Hall staff, including Chief of Economic Development John Barros, came out to listen to the students’ message on behalf of the mayor.
In an interview earlier on Monday with the Boston Herald, Walsh questioned the decision to hold the walkout during the week.
“I just think that during school hours this early in the year — it’s just not needed today,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that students “have every right to express themselves.”
“They’re learning to be activists,” he said. “You can’t fault them for that.”