Protests engulf Hempstead at Hofstra’s presidential debate

Reported by Courtney McGee, Michael Rudin and Kiana Hill

Protesters from all sides took to the Hofstra University campus to air their grievances during the first presidential debate on Monday, Sept. 26.

“I’m here to bring a light to what’s been going on…and to stir some anger from people who are uncomfortable and make us uncomfortable on campus,” said Keiyonia Williams, a Hofstra student protesting with the Black Lives Matter group, speaking to the passionate responses many protesters were seeking.

In an environment in which Hillary Clinton supporters clashed with Donald Trump supporters on almost every corner, the tension was palpable and harnessed by many protesters.

“Hey hey, ho ho, racist Trump has got to go,” voiced a group of people wearing pink pro Planned Parenthood t-shirts as they paced Hempstead Turnpike. The group was there to protest the removal of all federal funding proposed as a part of Donald Trump’s campaign platform. The pro-choice group was confronted by Rieves Grogan, who started to remove his clothes as part of a protest against abortion. Grogan travelled from Mansfield, Texas to join the protest armed with a homemade sign emblazoned with the words: ‘Unborn Lives Matter.’

The anti-abortion protest was not the only issue to draw rhetoric from the Black Lives Matter protests that have been occurring all over the country since the summer of 2014. Shirts proclaiming “I can’t breathe” were worn by a group of fast food workers that gathered at Hofstra University to make their voices heard as they fight for a $15 minimum wage. The phrase is often used as a protest chant by Black Lives Matter as it is some of the last words uttered by Eric Garner, a black man killed by a police chokehold in July of 2014.

Protesters of all causes were protected by over 1,000 uniformed Nassau County Police officers. Regardless of their cause, all voices were given a platform to peacefully protest during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University. Their passion remained strong with their causes, but waned when speaking of the two candidates who debated that night. When asked if either candidate would help her cause, Williams said, “Nobody is hopeful.”