By Dave Boyce and Kate Bradshaw | Almanac Staff Writers
A peaceful, if loud and boisterous, protest against the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States began at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, when a large number of Menlo-Atherton High School students – more than 1,000, an Atherton policeman said – gathered on the school campus with their signs and frustrations over Mr. Trump's positions.
The students left the campus, some marching on Middlefield Road, Oak Grove Avenue, and other streets in a wide, lengthy and apparently impromptu circuit that led back to M-A, at least for some.
A smaller group of students marched to Palo Alto, up University Avenue and then cutting back toward Willow Road, according to Menlo Park Police Department spokesperson Nicole Acker.
Around 3:15 p.m., the Menlo Park Police Department sent out an advisory that 200 to 300 people were walking toward U.S. 101.
Some students gathered in the vicinity of Hamilton Avenue and Chilco Street in eastern Menlo Park, Ms. Acker said. Soon after, a group of about 40 students were reported returning to the M-A campus along Ringwood Avenue, having crossed the foot bridge over U.S. 101.
Ms. Acker said that the police department was focused on keeping the students safe and the protest was entirely peaceful.
"The roadways are clear and everyone is safe," she said.
Why they marched
A visitor sitting in front of the campus of Menlo-Atherton High School on Monday afternoon, Nov. 14, would not have seen anything obvious indicating an impending momentous event, but they would have heard something.
Cheers and the noises of an enlivened crowd arose from the direction of Ringwood Avenue. They quickly grew louder and signs appeared over the low wall that fronts the campus. Wave upon wave of students, almost running, headed north in a traffic lane on Middlefield Road, a sustained ovation on the move.
An Almanac reporter asked M-A 11th-grader Helen Chafee of Menlo Park why she was marching. "Because some very close friends could lose their civil liberties," she said. Elected leaders would "compromise the lives of those who need protection the most."
Tinka Rayner, an M-A sophomore and resident of Menlo Park, said she was marching to support people who hate Donald Trump. "I don't stand for anything he's trying to support," she said. Asked to elaborate, she cited racism and sexism.
"Trump is just going to destroy everything," said another sophomore from Menlo Park who didn't want to give his name.
Why spend money on a wall at the border with Mexico when it would be better spent on schools and bridges, asked his buddy marching with him.
None of the students interviewed for this story said they knew of any students who support Mr. Trump, but one student said those students would likely keep their views to themselves at M-A.
The Menlo Park Police Department deployed about 12 officers to cover the march, one officer told the Almanac. The Atherton Police Department also participated, he said.
This reporter encountered three sophomores lying down near the bike bridge at Alma Street between Menlo Park and Palo Alto. They had broken off from the march and were headed back in the direction of the school.
"People were upset and they wanted to say something and they did in a good way that was peaceful," said Michael Daley of Menlo Park.
"I just don't think it was productive," said another sophomore who didn't want to give his name. They should donate to an organization that Mr. Trump "is going to de-fund," he said. "Go volunteer at Planned Parenthood, or something," he said, as they got up to leave.