In response to the election of Republican Donald Trump for president in the early morning hours on Wednesday, people gathered near the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus that evening.
Liz Whelan, a 2010 Ohio State master of city and regional planning graduate, created a Facebook event titled“Light and Love Vigil” around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, and about 100 people were in attendance for the 6:30 p.m. event. Whelan said she felt the need to take some sort of action in response to the election results, and made the event after some of her friends responded positively to the suggestion of a vigil.
“A lot of people in this country don’t necessarily perceive what Donald Trump says and does as offensive to minority groups in the country. That causes me a lot of concern,” she said. “I feel like I want to gather people who are expressing that sentiment that we are still standing together. We are still doing our best as a community to continue to not only promote civil liberties but see the inherent value of all people.”
The event was originally scheduled to take place on the Statehouse lawn, but was moved to the sidewalk outside the building as use of the lawn requires a permit secured in advance. While the term “vigil” is sometimes for remembrance of the dead, Whelan said the term speaks to the feeling of heartbreak she is experiencing.
“The word definitely resonates a connotation of grief, of loss, and I think there’s sadness,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a loss of Hillary Clinton, to me, although I think she would have made a fine president who would have represented things that I believe in, but the grief is more in that I really wanted to believe that there were enough Americans who would come out and vote and say ‘No, it’s not OK to speak this way about people, publicly or otherwise.’”
Whelan did not plan any speakers or activities ahead of time, but as the event got underway, she kicked off the vigil by inviting attendees to march around the block. After the lap, attendees made a circle and took turns speaking addressing the group.
Two of those who stepped forward were Ohio State students Hanna Detwiler and Levi Griffith. Both are members of OSU’s chapter of College Democrats and worked to support Clinton’s campaign.
“I didn’t want to leave my room, I was really sad, but this was the right thing to do,” said Detwiler, a third-year in English and psychology.
Griffith, a third-year in public affairs, said the vigil was a way for him to find hope.
“We have all these people that want to stop this hate and vitriol that’s going around, to sort of accept people for who they are,” he said. “And that’s what motivated me to come down, is to show that there still are people who believe in that, who still want that vision for America.”
Although the election is over, Detwiler said the chance to make political change is not.
“I think it’s time to fight harder than we’ve ever fought before,” she said. “I just want to make sure that people understand that, that it’s really okay to cry but we need this as a call to action, to try and change the world one more time.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 10 at 12:20 p.m. to correct the spelling of Detwiler’s name. Griffith’s major was also corrected.