Hundreds turn out to protest Trump in Williamstown

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WILLIAMSTOWN - More than 400 people appeared at Field Park on Saturday morning to demonstrate their support for minorities in the wake of the election of Republican Donald Trump to the presidency.

The event was organized by North Berkshires for Racial Justice, a group formed a few months ago in Williamstown that hosts regular monthly meetings.

"We're here because we are concerned about the safety of our black, brown, Latino, gay, lesbian and immigrant brothers and sisters," said Margeret "Peggy" Kern, one of the organizers of Saturday's event. "We're concerned this recent election has validated white supremacy, racism, sexism and transgenderphobia."

On Tuesday, Trump won an Electoral College victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Clinton leads in the popular vote, which is still being counted.

But the win has triggered considerable fear from minority groups and women in the U.S. This was due, in large part, to Trump's vow to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, a promise to deport all undocumented immigrants, a promise to prevent the immigration of Muslims, as well as a desire to register those already here, whether or not they are citizens, his calling Mexicans "rapists" and "criminals," a recording from 2005 in which Trump boasts about sexually assaulting women, his announcement that he will work to end access to legal abortion in the U.S. and would overturn the decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

Kern conceded that "we can't turn this election around. But we can support the struggle for social justice."

Saturday's event attracted a multi-generational crowd. And the crowd showed up almost all at once. At 10:53, Kern arrived with several posters. At 11:01, there were almost 180 people in the park. By 11:15, the number had swell to at least 300. By 11:20, that number was up to about 400.

There were dozens of hand-made signs. Some reading "Love Trumps Hate," "Black Lives Matter," "You Cannot Unify With Hate" and many other slogans.

The demonstration was suffused with good will. Although some of the demonstrators chanted slogans, many just held up signs. Passing cars honked in support.

Neal Sardona of Williamstown, another organizer said "for me, the election results were shocking. A lot of people are really scared.

"There is a feeling among the minority community that we're not wanted," he said.

"We wanted to show that we won't accept racism, homophobia, xenophobia," said Jane Burger of Williamstown.

"I think the election has made many people feel that white supremacy will protect them in a way that policy would not have," said Meg Bossong, director of Sexual Assault and Response at Williams College. ""I'm here for people who are afraid for their safety. I don't think we can be silent. we have to speak up."

Reach staff reporter Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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