When 21-year-old Cameron Campbell, a senior at Skidmore College, approached a small group of young boys shouting “Lock her up” in downtown Saratoga Springs Friday evening, she walked with the intention of having a thoughtful conversation. After speaking with the group, she walked away with her head held high and tears brimming in her eyes.
Cameron was one of a few hundred local demonstrators who took part in a candlelight vigil and “Love Trumps Hate” march in downtown Saratoga Springs Friday evening. With protests in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs since the election, local demonstrators have joined the ranks of thousands protesting the president-elect’s rhetoric and platform nationwide.
“They are trying to get us upset with them,” said Cameron. “I tried to share love. They are asking us to attack them but we are stronger than that.”
“Build a wall,” the boys shouted.
“You are creating a wall between us,” she replied before rejoining the group of demonstrators.
An older woman tried bridging the gap between the two groups when one boy asked her “Can you call me daddy?”
During the march, little girls wrapped their small hands around their mothers’ fingers and little boys held up signs, mothers pushed strollers and cars honked in support along Broadway. A lone man with a megaphone shouted “Make America great again!” from his balcony above Broadway. The march began shortly after 5 p.m. near the Spirit of Life statue outside Congress Park on Broadway and continued toward City Hall before ending back at the park.
A group of older men stood outside a cigar shop on Broadway with arms crossed as demonstrators pushed strollers along and held signs up high. “Their parents didn’t raise them right,” said one older gentleman — he declined to give his name.
Signs reading “My generation will break down your wall,” and “They came for the Muslims and we said ‘Not this time’ ” waved in the air as demonstrators sang “We Shall Overcome.”
“I’m obviously Muslim,” 26-year-old Seyma Inan said through a megaphone to the crowd. “I was raised here. In my household, my parents always taught me to love not hate. Hate was not a word we used in our home and I want you to know that.”
She added: “After the election, I said I don’t know what’s going to happen after this point. But [after tonight] I don’t think I have any doubts anymore. Thanks.”
Saratoga Springs resident Ellen Eggier-Aimone organized the event. “We need to stay calm and build bridges. We don’t respect each other enough in this country — that is how we got to be in the situation we are in today. It’s something that is dear to my heart,” she said.
Marissa Bongo, a teacher from Ballston Spa, said this election is concerning both as a parent and as a teacher. “I try to create an environment of respect [in my classroom], but I can only influence so much. I’ve had conversations with administrators about how to teach children to be respectful. Hatred, racism and sexism are learned behaviors,” she said. Bongo was pushing her 2-year-old son, Cameron, in a stroller in the march.
Carla Jentz, who was visiting Saratoga from Massachusetts with her husband, said she wasn’t expecting to take part in a demonstration but was pleased to stumble upon it. “We applaud this effort,” she said. “This is the spirit of America.”
Albany events today
More than 1,000 people have said they are either interested in or will attend a “Love Trumps Hate” protest on State Street in Albany today from noon until 4 p.m.
A “Rally Against Trump’s 100 Days Agenda” is scheduled to take place in Albany’s Townsend Park today at the intersection of Central and Washington avenues, as well. The rally, which has been organized by the Capital District Coalition Against Islamophobia, is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. According to a press release, the group will march up Central Avenue and end at the Masjid As-Salam Mosque.
Reach Gazette reporter Cady Kuzmich at 269-7239 or [email protected]