Students and Faculty Attend Democracy Rally Amid Presidential Election

Photo by Olivia Ross

By Lorena Grajales, News Editor-

After President Trump falsely claimed victory over the 2020 Presidential Election and filed two lawsuits to stop the counting of votes in the battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, UTC’s Young Democratic Socialists of America co-hosted a rally for democracy to demand a free and fair election.

The rally was held at Coolidge Park on Wednesday, Nov. 4, alongside Chattanooga DSA, Tennessee United, the Hamilton County Democratic Party, United Campus Workers, Alphabet Mafia, Sunrise Chattanooga and other organizations.

Their demands included that all ballots across the country be counted, that the election results be respected regardless of the winner, that investigations be aptly applied if evidence regarding election irregularities is found and for their first amendment rights be protected by police and military from armed groups who may cause intimidation as results are revealed.

Seretta Malaikham, a junior at UTC explained what drove her to attend the rally and expressed her worry concerning the community for the upcoming weeks.

“I’m just upset about the state of our world, I’m upset about how many people are scared and I’m upset about the uncertainty of our world. I just feel like there’s going to be some type of civil unrest no matter who wins.”

Sierra White, a member of Chattanooga DSA led the rally and spoke on the significance of mail-in and absentee ballots, protecting the country’s democracy, erasing barriers to voting accessibility and creating a strong community bond.

“The bar of our democracy is already so low in the ground and it’s up to us to pull it up higher…we have to come together, show solidarity for each other…because that’s how we’re going to win, that’s how we’re going to overcome this,” she said.

Members of the community also heard from YDSA’s Vice President and UTC junior, Evelina Kertey, who appealed to students who have a special role in the movement, to stand and show up to defend their rights despite the dismay.

“Fear is a good emotion to have right now. There is a real threat that we lose our democracy, our values, our rights,” she said. “So, I think fear is a reasonable response…We must fight with every bit of our blood and sweat to protect our rights.”

Dr. Jeremy Strickler, Assistant Professor in the department of political science at UTC encouraged attendees to practice democracy not just every two or four years in the midterm and presidential elections, but also in local elections. Strickler also shared his thoughts on what he claimed was his specialty: the presidency.

“It is dangerous to have a president declare that we should end the vote, that is not how a democracy works…do not let people tell you that we have to end counting of the vote,” he said. “Democracy is more than just an idea, it is a practice, it is a process. You never achieve it, you always work towards it.”

Towards the end of the rally, White opened the floor for members in the audience to connect with each other, engage in conversation with different people and converse on issues that mattered to each. Attendees also heard from United Steel Workers, Chattanooga Area Labor Council, United Campus Workers and Industrial Workers of the World.

For more information, UTC’s YDSA can be found on Facebook as “UTC Young Democratic Socialists” and live election updates can be found here.

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