Written and photographed by Marie De Freitas
Last weekend Savannahians came together in Wright Square to take a stand. The peaceful gathering, hosted by SCAD advertising student Ashley Crouch, was not meant to protest the election results or make an anti-Trump statement. According to Crouch, this wasn’t about politics. It was about compassion and reminding everyone that we are all in this together.
Various signs depicted support for minorities, POC, immigrants, the environment, Muslims, women’s rights, the disabled, the LGBTQ community and general human rights. The event kicked off at 11 am with some short inspirational speeches. The march then went on down Bull Street, Oglethorpe, MLK and around Forsyth throughout the afternoon.
In an interview with the event organizer, Crouch, she answered several questions with her thoughts surrounding the event.
“I really wanted to bring hope to the people… and bring the Savannah community together,” she said, “and I think we accomplished that.”
Many people came up to Crouch, thanking her and calling the event the best “anti-depressant.”
When asked what made her want to organize the event, Crouch shared the story of how her friend’s housemate, an elderly woman, about in her late sixties or so, asked to speak with them.
“She poured her heart out about how this election was so devastating. She has been an activist for like over forty years now.”
Crouch explained how this unnamed woman was an activist back in the 60’s and how it was up to them and the new generation to “make a change.”
“She didn’t say, ‘go make a protest!’, but she was saying we need to be involved,” Crouch said, “and I was like, you know what? I’m just gonna do this!”
The main idea throughout this protest certainly seemed to be sending a message to the targeted groups during the wake of this election; to send a message of solidarity to them. This message, Crouch said, was to say: “You are not alone.”
“There’s other people in your community who feel the same way that you do. I wanted it to be a support for those people too. Not only bringing awareness, but giving people an opportunity to actually reach out to those who were affected the most.”
Of course, Crouch explained, when taking the initiative to put together an event such as this there’s always a risk. When you’re leading a crowd of over three hundred people through the city, there’s a lot of worries that follow. Yet, luckily, everything turned out just fine.
“I was really happy with how the whole thing turned out. It went exactly how I envisioned. Like nothing really went wrong. No violence.”
Crouch made sure of that, working with the Chief of Police to ensure the march would be safe and not cause any traffic problems, by blocking the streets for the crowd to pass.
With events such as these, there can be a thin line between a “protest and riot,” but Crouch made sure they stayed true to their peaceful intentions. Crouch added how she indeed thought peaceful protests were more effective than “counter-productive” violent ones, where people are burning the flag and only come off as “crybabies” with onlookers.
Finally, Crouch said she wanted the protestors to take away “hope” away from the event. “And happiness,” She said. “After the protest, it was almost like a high, I just felt so much love and that was all I wanted the march. I just wanted to spread love.”