"I want you to know this isn't a protest march," Rev. Nori Rost declared atop the bandshell at Acacia Park, addressing hundreds of gathered citizens. "It's an affirmation parade! It's a diversity stroll!"
Indeed, the demonstration on the overcast afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 13, expressed not just a rejection of President-elect Donald Trump's white supremacy, misogyny and fear-mongering, but also a commitment to firm support of all marginalized peoples. Many attendees donned safety pins — the emblem borrowed from resistance movements throughout history that symbolizes the "safety" of its wearer to those in danger during dark times.
Before the march, Trig Bundgaard, an organizer with Coalition for Compassion and Action, read the words female leaders of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) wrote about the safety pin. They called on all pin wearers to commit to daily acts of resistance like intervening in bigotry, starting more conversations about touchy subjects, spending money intentionally and staying informed and ready to mobilize against harmful public policies.
"If only a symbol, the safety pin brigade is nothing," the brigade echoed a bellowing Bundgaard, then set out on the downtown loop.
Lisa Villanueva, local chapter president of the NAACP, was steadfast. "We've overcome slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era," she said. "This is the same fight, just under a different president."
There was little if any actual fighting, unlike other cities where there's been some destruction of property and violent episodes. Likewise, counter-protesters were few and mild. Police presence was minimal — or, at least, out-of-sight. One march marshal, however, did report getting nearly run over by an aggressive driver apparently intent on pushing the marshal out of the road with her car. No one was injured.
Marchers kept to the sidewalk, for the most part, segmented into several groups moving at different speeds. Chants like "build bridges, not walls," "we reject the President-elect," "love Trumps hate" and "her body, her choice" rang out.
Among the crush was Democrat Misty Plowright, upbeat despite her recent defeat in the 5th Congressional District to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. Plowright said she wasn't surprised by Hillary Clinton's loss, telling the Indy she reckons Bernie Sanders could've beaten Trump had he gotten the chance. Plowright, who's trans, added that many of her own supporters voted for Trump.
"Trump supporters aren't all racist, sexist bigots, of course," she said. "But we do need to send a message to him that, 'Look, you may have won the electoral college, but you can't govern like your rhetoric.' And that's what we're here doing today."
The demonstration drew some revolutionary types, like socialist Josh Cerda who says that Trump's victory could entice more moderate liberals over to anti-capitalism. Representatives from the anti-fascist punk scene attended the rally too, as did those from the Standing Rock resistance and more traditional pacifist groups.
Students also made their presence felt. John-Henry Williams, a sophomore at Colorado College and former Sanders organizer, wants to harness passions on campus right now. (Students are especially fired up since homophobic slurs were recently found scrawled on a bathroom stall in an LGBTQ dorm.)
"We're trying to connect with other campuses to act [conjointly], then reach out to all the groups around town" he said.
The first battle against Trump's agenda will likely be around the immigrant families and communities now facing the threat of deportation.
For those wanting to plug in, Unite Colorado Springs, a local progressive organization, is hosting a "Where Do We Go From Here?" discussion at Penrose Library, noon Saturday, Dec. 3. SURJ's next meeting will be at 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Casa Verde cohousing community in the Old North End. Anyone interested in keeping up can also join "The Safety Pin Brigade of Colorado Springs" Facebook page.