NORTHAMPTON — Shel Horowitz was 12 years old when he attended a demonstration for peace during the Vietnam War. But that was just the beginning of his role in activism.
In the 1990s, Horowitz organized a group called “Save the Mountain” to fight the development of a luxury subdivision on the Mount Holyoke Range. His preservation group was victorious.
On Sunday, Horowitz, 59, of Hadley, marched with nearly 400 people through downtown Northampton in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump.
“Ordinary people can really make a difference,” he said, standing alongside artists, students and teachers, all gathered to make their voice heard.
“No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA,” the crowd chanted. “We reject the president-elect.”
The group started at Sheldon Field, moving down Bridge Street and stopping at City Hall. Police blocked multiple intersections on Bridge and Main streets, clearing the road for protesters. People held signs “Love Trumps Hate,” “Nasty Women Unite,” “Protect Muslim Rights” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“Being out here is an art form. It’s also a duty,” elementary school teacher Rick Gifford, 53, of Northampton said. “Being out here shows that you care.”
Mount Holyoke College student Jamesa Allen, 19, led the microphone for most of the demonstration. She said she represented community members and Smith College students.
For Allen, this was her third protest this week and she expects to keep the movement going.
She plans to travel to Washington for a large anti-Trump protest on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, as well as the Million Women March the following day.
Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin joined the march on Sunday, as did members of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Kendra Hodgson, 42, of Springfield, wrote a poem in response to the election results and shared her words to hundreds outside City Hall.
“I rage because my gay friends feel denied and disrespected,” she said. “I rage because the man the electorate chose to lead the ‘Divided States of America’ just appointed a white supremacist.”
Her voice grew louder.
“I will keep raging against injustice, against hate, against violence,” she said. “I rage, we rage, for love.”
At Sunday’s demonstration, fliers were passed out for Trump’s inauguration protest and activists said there are plans to offer transportation from New England to D.C.
“My goal is to raise awareness,” Allen said. In Allen’s opinion, change starts locally. She said she encourages people to get involved in the community, such as by attending city council meetings.
Since Election Day, changes have already started at a local level.
The Northampton City Council passed a resolution Thursday urging residents to practice “civil courage,” and on Wednesday, Easthampton City Councilor Jennifer Hayes stated that she will work to create a human rights committee for the city.
Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at email@example.com.