A long line of shouting Denver students snaked down the sidewalk along five-lane Federal Boulevard on Friday, past mobile phone stores, pho shops and taquerias. Police vehicles and teachers with walkie talkies shielded them from heavy traffic as passing drivers laid on their horns, encouraging their chants: “All races matter!” “We are united!” “Not my president!”
The students, from at least four schools in southwest Denver, marched in protest of the election of Donald Trump. They ended up in a parking lot shared by a clothing store, a Family Dollar and a supermarket, where they were met by adult community organizers with bullhorns.
“In the words of Trump, we’re seen as rapists and a waste of money,” said Marcus Marrakchi, a junior at STRIVE Prep SMART Academy. “We’re here to prove that we want to get our education.”
While it may seem counterintuitive to walk out of school to make that point, the students said the protest was a way to show unity. “We’re not allowed to vote, so this is the way we vote,” said Yessenia Felix, a freshman at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School.
The walkout was at least the second time Denver students left school this week to voice opposition to Trump. On Wednesday, students from Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in far northeast Denver marched to the former Montbello High School. Students in other cities, including Boulder and Colorado Springs, have held similar demonstrations.
DPS spokesman Will Jones, who was in the parking lot talking to journalists, said the district encourages students to stay in school and aims to provide opportunities on campus for kids to share their views. But “if they decide to walk, we have to do all we can to support them,” he said.
Some students held handwritten signs. “No fear,” one read. “Si se puede,” another said.
“We’re not going to be brought down,” said Francisco Ledezma, a sophomore at DSST: College View, who added he’s afraid Trump is spreading a false message about Latinos, African Americans and Muslims. “We’re sticking together.”