Approximately 200 Utahns gathered with signs at Washington Square in Salt Lake City for the Not My President’s Day rally on Feb. 20. The rally provided individuals the opportunity to protest the words and actions of President Donald Trump and voice their concerns about his administration.
Among the protestors was Bibek Neupane, a 23-year-old Westminster College alumnus from the class of 2016.
“It’s making a stand against harmful policies that are not just bad for society but also the world,” Neupane said. “It’s a form of protest, and for me it’s more than just a civic duty.”
Guest speakers addressed the crowd through a megaphone, bringing up immigration, racism and transgender rights. Sophia Hawes-Tingey, a transgender mayoral candidate in Midvale, spoke about the importance of community during hard times.
“We do not need an administration that will not support our trans children in schools and protect them,” Hawes-Tingey said. “We have to stand up for one another as individuals [and] as human beings. We all need family.”
Neupane said the rally’s community atmosphere was a breath of fresh air and said more people should gather together to speak up for their beliefs.
“It’s very important,” Neupane said. “When people that you elect lose sight of the values that they were trusted to keep, the only way people challenge the power is by protesting and demonstrating.”
Born in Nepal during a time of political instability, Neupane said he witnessed protests and strikes throughout his childhood.
“There was a civil war,” he said. “There was a big revolution, and as a result we threw away the king.”
Because of this, Neupane said he believes strongly in the power people have to create change within their own political system. However, he said many Americans don’t realize they have the ability to make a difference.
“I’ve noticed that in the U.S. a big segment of people have not participated in protests in their lifetime,” Neupane said. “Since the U.S. has been such a stable democracy, there hasn’t really been a need for it. But now there is one because Trump’s administration is not keeping the democratic values of the U.S.”
Corrine Galván Gutierrez organized the Not My President’s Day rally and spoke to the assembled Utahns about the impact individuals can have in their communities.
“I’m one person,” Gutierrez said. “I’m one person and you all came here because one person decided we need this here in Salt Lake. And then one person turned into three. And then three people turned into 10. And then 10 turned into all of you.”
Neupane said he thinks it’s important that Americans make an effort to stand up for their political and social beliefs.
“They haven’t seen it make change, but I have seen huge change happen in my country,” Neupane said. “When the leaders fail you, people have to step up and show their power.”