Citizens of Carbondale march in support of social activism a day after the election Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill. Several local activist groups attended, including For the People, a communist organization dedicated to helping those in need within local communities through various food and clothing drives. (James B Allen | @skyclopsphotojamboree)
Citizens of Carbondale march in support of social activism a day after the election Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in Carbondale, Ill. Several local activist groups attended, including For the People, a communist organization dedicated to helping those in need within local communities through various food and clothing drives.

James B Allen | @skyclopsphotojamboree

Southern Illinois activist groups hold post-election protest

“We’re here because we want to say that the election that we just had or still having, does not represent the people,”

November 4, 2020

Following the unclear presidential election this Tuesday, southern Illinoisans gathered outside the town square pavilion in Carbondale in protest of what they felt was an unrepresentative election.

 The southern Illinois chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America, Carbondale Spring, Southern Illinois Unity Coalition and other activist groups organized this event around a month ago to spread awareness of democracy and the election. 

The event was called “Emergency Protest 4 Democracy + Liberation” and was scheduled to take place after the election regardless of the results.

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Around 40 people met in the parking lot outside the pavilion.

Protesters who ranged from eco-activists to ardent communists, expressed concern over the non-definitive results as well as, what some felt was a lack of choice between two candidates.

“We’re here because we want to say that the election that we just had or still having, does not represent the people,” Jyotsna Kapur, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and director of SIU’s honor program said.

In a real democracy, there wouldn’t be this much economic inequality and people in a place of power should be able to address fundamental inequality Kapur said.

Kapur said she is angry with democrats for thinking former Vice President Joe Biden is the smart choice.

“If anything it shows what a sham democracy has become,” Kapur said.

The crowd was a mixture of local residents and students from SIU. 

 “I believe that one election isn’t going to fix all of our problems, it takes a lot more than just winning democratic states”, said Tomas Cortez, a senior at the SIU College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

Cortez said he feels in this election the nation is representing a good democracy with the pressure of making sure all ballots are being counted with hopes that his vote for Biden helps him win the election.

 “We just want to make sure there’s no coup,” said Dennis Connolly, a member of the Southern Illinois Peace Coalition

As the evening went on organizers asked protesters to give speeches.

Nancy Maxwell, founder, and organizer for the Southern Illinois Unity Coalition spoke about the difficulty of being Black in America, and the lack of solutions by politicians.

Maxwell said as a Black person she’s always been in a pandemic.

“I’ve been wearing a mask, I wear a mask when I have to smile and pretend to people who I know hate me for the simple fact of the color of my skin,” Maxwell said.

“As we look onto the results of this election, we must remain hopeful,” said Cortez during his speech to the crowd.

Capping the evening’s speeches was Beau Henson who worked as a policy organizer with the Ray Lenzi for Congress campaign.

“We lost pretty bad, light to moderate democrats get destroyed, progressives get destroyed and that’s not gonna work,” said Henson.

Henson went on about the lack of progressive candidates and policies in the federal government. In a final address to the crow, Henson said “Start planning on moving to an urban center or start thinking in a new way.”

Following the speeches, around a dozen of the protesters marched from the pavilion to the US General Services Administration building followed closely by Carbondale police.

Staff reporter George Wiebe can be reached at [email protected]

Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewis

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