Medill sophomore Marvin Sanchez is angry. In April 2015, he stood outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters with hundreds of Chicagoans, demanding justice for those affected by police brutality. In July 2015, he shut down a Chicago Police Board meeting with other activists, demanding the firing of Detective Dante Servin, who shot Rekia Boyd in 2012. In April 2016, he marched by the Thompson Center with 5,000 other protesters in solidarity with teachers who went on strike to protest Chicago Public School budget cuts. Over time, his frustration has never faded.
Sanchez is one of the many passionate Northwestern students who demonstrate political participation through activism and protests targeting issues from police brutality to education. To Sanchez, attending protests demonstrates solidarity with the communities he cares about and loves.
“I have a lot of anger, and I think anger’s a good thing because anger makes you wanna move and actually do something,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s experiences with racism and marginalization both on- and off-campus compel him to protest.
“I have love for my people, for those I stand in solidarity with, and as frustrated and angry as I get, I have big love for humanity. I think things can change,” Sanchez said. “I want liberation for everyone, not just for me, but for everyone. I’m always going to love my community. No one else is gonna have my back.”
School of Communication freshman Danielle Douge finds everyone can protest in the smallest ways, like being proud of yourself when you know a system doesn’t want you to succeed. As a Black woman at a historically white institution, she is resisting. However, she likes protesting because of the feeling of actively doing something.
Douge, a Chicago native, attended Chicago’s Blackout Black Friday in November 2014, where she marched from the Magnificent Mile to Wicker Park. When the group of 200 reached the Damen/North/Milwaukee intersection, they all laid down for a die-in.
“I’ll never forget that feeling, being on the cold ground and thinking about the fact I’m not just walking, yelling and carrying signs, but I’m here to honor the victims of this heinous act.”
Activists often feel hopeless and tired over time once they notice the same injustices repeated over and over. Douge insists that patience is key to staying hopeful, and that it is important to remember that in the past, huge changes took years of protesting and hard work.
However, there are some victories. Weinberg sophomore Neil Thivalapill attended the massive protest against Donald Trump’s UIC rally in March with other Northwestern students. Thivalapill went because he was curious to interact with others who thought differently than him, he said. Besides being told to go back to his country, he witnessed some physical altercations.
“I think the best part was as soon as it was announced that Trump wouldn't be there, all the anti-Trumpers were revealed in our chants of ‘Fuck you Trump,’" Thivalapill said. “I did not feel safe with the police, but during the fights it was very clear who was anti-Trump, and so I hurdled with them.”
Most of the people being taken out of the auditorium were Black men, according to Thivalapill. Still, Thivalapill said he was glad he was able to meet people with views drastically different than his own and stand in solidarity with others sharing his views.
Sanchez stresses that when attending protests, learning and growth are two of the most important factors in being an ally to different communities and standing in solidarity with others.
“I don’t speak over people and I don’t take space. Be conscious of your space and develop an ethic where you are constantly checking yourself and growing and telling yourself, this isn’t the end,” Sanchez said.