By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
More than 100 people gathered at Oklahoma City’s Bicentennial Park for what was billed as a “Nonviolent Protest of Trump and a Rally for Peace and Love” following the general election on November 8. The event was organized by the Center for Conscience in Action (CCA), a pacifist organization dedicated to ending war.
Oklahomans were invited to show their support for “mutual understanding, solidarity and trust, and protection of the planet,” according to organizers.
The protest was one of many held across the U.S. in the days following Donald Trump’s election as the country’s next President.
Event co-sponsors included Black Lives Matter Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sierra Club, Showing Up for Racial Justice OKC, YWCA, Freedom Oklahoma, Ending Violence Everywhere Coalition, and Amnesty OKC.
Among the list of speakers were former Senator Connie Johnson, Oklahoma City Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, East 6th Street Christian Church Pastor Jesse Jackson, Oklahoma Sierra Club director Johnson Bridgewater, activist Paula Sophia Schonauer, YWCA Director of Social and Economic Justice Chelsey Branham, and Freedom Oklahoma executive director Troy Stevenson.
Rena Guay of CCA and Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma emceed the event.
Bridgwater said, “Climate change is real and it is already impacting nations around the world. We cannot afford any reversal on what the United States has been working on the past eight years, including signing on to the Paris Climate Agreement. Now, more than ever before, we need people stepping up to protect our planet.”
Milton Combs, CEO of the P.E.O.P.L.E Foundation said, “The NAACP has been Ieading the civic rights movements since the turn of the century. We can’t fight this fight by ourselves continually – we need your help.”
Sara Bana, of End Violence Everywhere said some people were “feeling distraught as a result of some of the rhetoric we heard on the campaign trail.” She added, “We were victimized and targeted and many of us were victims of violence. We are united here today not because we hate America but rather because we love America.”
Some of the basis of our distraught feelings is a result of some of the rhetoric we heard on the campaign trail. We were victimized and targeted and many of us were victims of violence. We are united here today not because we hate America but rather because we love America.”
When asked why she chose to attend the protest, Oklahoma City resident Pat Reeves said, “I think it’s really important to be visible in terms of our support for each other and I can’t do that watching a football game at my house.”
Dr. Shadid told the crowd it was important to be involved in politics on the local level. He encouraged people to run for office saying, “If your group can get activated and lock arms, and pay attention to the city level, we can change the direction of this city.”
Activist Margaret Cox said, ‘’’I’m really happy to see this turnout here today in concern about the new presidency. We will get through this, but we will have to be very vigilant.” Cox added that she was most concerned about “justice for all the groups that I have heard maligned by the incoming president.”
Signs and banners were carried with messages that read, “Love Trumps Hate,” “Respect, Tolerance, Inclusion,” and “Diversity Makes America Great.”
The protest took place outside the Civic Center Music Hall where the annual Peace Festival was in full swing inside. Some participants of the festival joined in the rally and after the demonstration many protesters visited the rows of social justice organizations displaying their wares and information inside.
Following the event Dr. Dwain Pellebon, of the End Violence Everywhere coalition, wrote on Facebook, “Thank you, Center for Conscience in Action for the Peace and Love rally in Oklahoma City. The event was about unity and coming together to address the issues we face. Not one degrading or hateful word was spoken. No one rejected the election results. We stood in unity to talk about safety, diversity, respect, and love.”