Socialist Students Lead Nationwide Walkout Against Trump
On January 20, thousands of high school and college students at over 40 campuses in cities across the U.S. participated in walkouts organized by Socialist Students. The nationwide coordinated action was mobilized to send a powerful message that young people are determined to fight Trump’s racist, sexist, right wing agenda.
In Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota Socialist Student’s walkout started with a rally of 400 people before joining forces with Augsburg College students and then converging with the #NoDAPL and immigrant rights rallies to create a 1,000-strong march to city hall. Socialist Students organizer and U of M student, Tyler Vasseur, addressed the joint rally, calling “to combine our movements for the greatest possible resistance to Trump’s agenda.”
In Seattle, a total of 2,000 students walked out of 15 schools, including college campuses, high schools, and middle schools. Many came together for a Socialist Students’ organized mass rally at Seattle Central College. Socialist Students member Ezgi Eygi, addressed the crowd saying “Mass movements of ordinary people have succeeded in blocking right wing bigoted presidents before,” and explained how movements of workers and young people had fought for and won most major progressive gains of the past century, including against Republican administrations. Seattle City Councilmember and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant spoke about the important example of the bold student walkouts which defied Seattle School Board warnings, saying that more disruptive actions like these will be needed in the age of Trump, because “symbolic protest will not be enough, we need to build mass non-violent civil disobedience.”
Socialist Students in New York City organized with a grassroots coalition including Socialist Alternative, DSA, Occupy Kensington, and Metropolitan Council on Housing. The joint protest had a crowd over 1,000 coming together in the driving rain at the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street to fight Trump and the billionaire class.
At UC Berkeley in California, a crowd of 2,000 was joined by several hundred Berkeley High students. At UCLA, students held a rally at the campus’ main library where speakers from Socialist Students, labor unions, and student groups addressed an electrified crowd. Socialist Students led a march of 300 through campus and down Westwood Boulevard, where they shut down one of the busiest intersections in the State of California.
In Boston, Socialist Students joined with 150 striking dining hall workers from UNITE HERE Local 26 at Northeastern University to fight against anti-worker, anti-immigrant attacks. Later that evening they converged with Socialist Alternative’s mass rally of 4,000 that called for a united defense of reproductive rights and health care.
Despite intimidation tactics deployed by the Worcester school administration, over 100 students walked out from four area high schools, along with Worcester State University and Clark University.
Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati walkouts attracted hundreds of students, becoming the largest political demonstrations organized at both campuses in decades.
Chicago Socialist Students helped organize a walkout with Evanston Township High School (ETHS) a few days later on January 24. Over 400 students marched out toward Evanston City Center where ETHS students spoke, along with Nick Wozniak of Socialist Alternative. Socialist Students organizer Sarah Gonser describes the mile long march’s empowered atmosphere as showing students’ “enthusiasm for hitting the streets in a massive walkout and building a movement.” Socialist Students has another walkout scheduled for January 27 at Columbia College in downtown Chicago.
The anti-Trump walkouts underscore the enormous importance of youth in movements and of radical youth organizations like Socialist Students. From the anti-Vietnam War movement to the Occupy movement to combating sexual assault on college campuses, young people have historically been at the forefront of struggles.
Socialist Students organizer Cole Weirich summed up the rebellion of youth against Trump and the predatory system of capitalism: “There’s this saying that the youth will inherit the earth, but that’s not true about our generation. If we want this world, we have to fight for it.”