Protesters and supporters of Donald Trump tangled on Western Kentucky University’s campus as demonstrations against the president-elect were held in Kentucky.
Five people were arrested Wednesday night on charges of failure to disperse and second-degree disorderly conduct during a protest near the Pearce Ford Tower residential hall, according to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
The gathering was among many across the country where people critical of Trump’s win took to streets and campuses, carrying signs, chanting or yelling.
WKU police were initially called to the demonstration about 8:40 p.m. by university housing workers who reported that a large crowd was starting to get out of control, WKU Police Sgt. Rafael Casas said. The university had been notified that there was a protest planned that night.
When officers arrived, the participants were peaceful, but the two sides started to disagree and bottles were thrown, Casas said. WKU police called the sheriff’s office for assistance.
When deputies arrived, they used their cruisers’ public-address systems to command the crowd to disperse, said Stephen Harmon, the public information officer for the sheriff’s office. Deputies made several requests for the protesters to disperse, and when the crowd refused to leave the area, officers made arrests.
Some of the people who were arrested had been trying to interfere with other arrests, Harmon said.
“Law enforcement officials want to remind the public that you are entitled to your right to protest in a peaceful manner; however, once criminal behavior is exhibited, criminal arrests will be made to maintain order and ensure the safety of the public,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Thursday.
The five charged and taken to jail Wednesday night were Lauren Ivey, 18, of New Albany, Ind.; Brittany Bingham, 20, of Morgantown; Nigel Farmer, 19, of Bowling Green; Kain Youman, 19, of Frankfort; and Marianna Baker, 18, of Junction City, according to the sheriff’s office.
After the arrests, the protest continued peacefully, and officers left the area about 10:50 p.m., Casas said. When officers returned to check about 30 minutes later, most of the protesters were gone.
On Thursday morning, WKU President Gary Ransdell issued a campuswide email, urging tolerance and support for differences.
“We need to embrace our differences, especially for those who might feel threatened,” Ransdell wrote. “Our African-American students and our international students, particularly our Muslim students, and those in our LGBTQ family may be feeling a sense of uncertainty. We love them all and treasure what they bring to this richly diverse family.”
At the University of Kentucky, dozens of people gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil outside of the Patterson Office Tower, WKYT reported. The event was organized by UK’s Panhellenic Council, which represents Greek organizations. Participants shared photos and videos on social media.
Other universities emphasized calm discourse. At Eastern Kentucky University, President Michael Benson put out a campuswide email, calling for post-election unity. EKU held its annual Diversity Breakfast on Thursday morning, and several speakers talked about the race, said EKU spokeswoman Kristi Middleton.
“As our mission states, Eastern Kentucky University is committed to equal opportunity, dignity, respect, and inclusion for all people, as integral to a learning environment in which intellectual creativity and diversity can thrive,” Benson wrote. “Simply stated, we can agree to disagree. We can do so with unity of purpose and mutual respect.
“Our community thrives with a spirit of inclusion that celebrates individuals and their ideas. We are all stronger when we focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us.”
At Kentucky State University, interim President Aaron Thompson urged students to continue with public service and engagement.
“Louisville’s native son and boxing legend Muhammad Ali said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,’ so we must remember that it is important to continue to let our voices be heard, be present and engaged in the issues that matter to us and continue to work diligently in our communities,” Thompson said.
Off campuses, others grappled with fallout from Trump’s election. In Lexington, downtown resident Travis Robinson wanted to show solidarity with people who were feeling fear or anger over the election. So he worked through MoveOn.org, which was organizing groups around the country. The “Peaceful Gathering Lexington” Facebook page quickly gained members, and by 6 p.m., about 50 people from all over Lexington had gathered in Duncan Park.
Robinson said people talked about their feelings and about direct action. They are planning a mural near Newtown Pike that will explore the theme “We Will Not Sit Idly By.” They’re also planning to meet every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Duncan Park.
“I think it’s going to be a growing group,” Robinson said. “My concern is this city and rural divide that we seem to have, and how we can reach our neighbors in rural areas.”
Author Kim Edwards attended the vigil.
“It was good to be with these people,” she wrote on the Peaceful Gathering Lexington Facebook Page. “There were tears. Expressions of grief and loss and fear. Stories from teachers about students terrified their families would be split up, parents deported. There were candles lit in the darkness, adults and children, a sense of community, though we were mostly strangers.”
A protest was planned Thursday night in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse, according to the Courier-Journal. More than 650 people had signed up Thursday morning to attend the peaceful protest on the event’s Facebook page titled “Not My President, Say No to Trump, Say No to Racism.”