Approximately thirty people gathered in Tampa’s Lykes Gaslight Park on Monday to participate in a protest by women and their “allies in solidarity” against what they call Donald Trump’s hate.
The event was one of at least two dozen being held around the nation. In New York, protesters were gathering at Columbus Circle at 2 p.m., where they were then scheduled later in the day to march to Trump Tower to speak out against the president-elect.
“Part of the objective was to do this before the 19th to try to get the attention of the electoral college voters, however far fetched that might be,” said Suzanne Young, the organizer of the Tampa event.
December 19 is when the 538 members of the Electoral College will cast their ballots for president. Those electors are picked by their political parties, and in the states where Trump took the popular vote like in Florida, the Republican party’s slate of electorate will get to vote.
But a group of rogue electors known as the Hamilton Electors have been engaged in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump from becoming president. To do they must convince at least 37 of the 306 Republican electors currently pledged to Trump to instead support a moderate Republican alternative. Democratic electors have taken the lead in this long-shot effort, which if successful at denying any candidate 270 electoral votes could ultimately throw the presidential election into the hands of the House of Representatives.
“I have a fear for their own safety, because they can’t vote their conscious,” said one anonymous demonstrator about the electors at the Tampa rally. She told this reporter she feared retribution from her boss if she said her name while attending the event.
Others at the rally spoke in dark terms of what a Trump presidency could mean for the nation.
“I’ve lost a lot of elections, but I always had the security of knowing that the U.S. was going to be in pretty good hands. This time I feel that the entire world is at stake,” said Laura Manson from Dade City.”I’m an older women. I have studied some history. And I see some similarities, quite frankly, to Hitler, and I always said to myself, that couldn’t happen. Now I think it could happen. And if history has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a time to stand up.”
Nearly all the protestors in Lykes Gaslight Park were women, some of whom said they feared that under a Trump administration they could lose fundamental rights, such as the right to have an abortion. Trump has said that he supports pro-life justices to sit on the Supreme Court.
“We’ve got to stand up or we’re going to lose,” Geanne Marks from St. Petersburg said with concern. “All that we’ve fought for is going to go down the tubes. We have got to stand up. He’s in. We can’t do anything about that. But we can sure let our voice be heard, that we’re not going to put up with the kind of things that he’s shown while he was campaigning.”
Marks said she has only become more alarmed in the five weeks since the election by the choice of Trump’s Cabinet selections. “I mean you choose somebody for EPA who doesn’t believe in global warming?” she asked incredulously about the choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead that agency. “You chose a woman for education who doesn’t believe in public education?” she added, referring to Betsy DeVos, Trump’s selection to head the Dept. of Education.
Over the weekend Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio slammed Trump for considering ExonMobil Corporation head Rex Tillerson as be his choice for secretary of state. The 64-year-old Tillerson, who took home $27 million last year, also has close ties with Russia, which has led to the objections by Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Tampa resident Erin Feichtinger said after reading Rubio’s tweet about Tillerson, she called his office on Monday to tell him she appreciated the comment. “We should identify these issues that I don’t think should be partisan, that affect all of Americans, and so I think it’s important that I call him,” she said. “I’m going to continue to call the office and hold him to that and let him know that his constituents do see that and do support that.”
Protests against Trump began the night after the election and continued for over a week in the Tampa Bay area and around the nation. There haven’t been as many recently, but several people who attended Monday’s rally say they’ll be active the entire time that Trump is in office.
Susan from St. Petersburg (she did not feel comfortable giving us her full name) said uncertain whether the Democrats are up to being the opposition party in full in challenging Trump, but she says she won’t quit.
“I believe that radical change and incremental change can co-exist,” she said. “I believe in both kinds of change and it doesn’t hurt me to participate in incremental change while I advocate for radical change.”