It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia: A glimpse into my first protest

By Miranda Donohue

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(Charles Fox/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

(Charles Fox/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

It’s been a week since Election Day and the political polarization amongst Americans has not been this prevalent in a very long time. It is not surprising the main social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have provided us with the never-ending opinions of our peers and why his or her political ideology should be understood and swallowed by everyone.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so incredibly passionate about wanting to throw out my phone and computer to disconnect with the rest of my world indefinitely. I felt such a foreign form of animosity toward those who disagreed with my political views, a feeling I have never felt before. The desire to answer those Facebook posts that made me ashamed to have friendships with certain people was at its highest. When I felt spiritually drained and politically abhorrent as I left for a Model United Nations conference at the University of Pennsylvania this weekend, I expected the shock to settle in, for it to even germinate into a terrible hatred. However, it did not.

This past Thursday, on North 17th Street in Philadelphia, I witnessed my first protest. The rally certainly wasn’t one my friends and I planned on attending that weekend.

The chants that came from every direction were hypnotizing. Before long I found myself in the nucleus of the crowd, holding tightly onto a banner that stated the misrepresentation of citizens by the president-elect. I witnessed peaceful protesting I had only read about in history books. I witnessed not happy or spiteful protestors but protesters with children, protesters in business attire and protesters with courage. The repeated chants of “We reject the president-elect!” “The people united will never be defeated!” “My body, my choice!” rang through the streets of Philly. About 40 police officers on bicycles remained behind, following the protesters through the streets, not interacting at all. The police force and the protesters were not at odds with one another but rather both felt a shared sense of despair that the protest was not unwarranted.

It occurred to me after I had left the protest that this is American liberty in its truest and purest form. Peaceful protesting proves the people of a nation still believe in the ideals of America, an establishment based on the pursuit of liberty itself. America was founded on the assumption that freedom is an innate right. Our First Amendment is inclusive of the very freedom of speech, religion and representative government that people are fighting for now more than ever. Unfortunately, these freedoms have now been so warped and disillusioned that they are unrecognizable. People have the right to voice their opinions whether it be in favor of one political party or the other; the lack of violence is necessary to implement change in a non-destructive, non-fatal manner. In order to preserve this specific freedom, we have to let our voices be heard.

The iconic tour destinations in Philadelphia should be viewed, especially in a time that is in such dire need for unity and remembrance of what America stands for in her entirety. Just hours before I encountered the protest, I had toured these integral parts of Philadelphia such as the Liberty Bell. It resonated with me deeply as a symbol of independence and liberty. The Bell was a tool used at one time to ring out important announcements and commencements, and now is the time for peaceful protests to ring and have their messages heard.

Miranda Donohue is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]