Five young women from Toledo connected on Facebook Monday, met in person on Tuesday, then organized a 200 person anti-Trump protest on Wednesday.
“We want to show that Trump doesn’t represent Toledo, or what the citizens of Toledo stand for,” protest organizer Veralucía Mendoza-Reno, 23, told Fusion in a telephone interview.
The protest was remarkable in how quickly and organically it happened. The three women, who were strangers on Monday, organized the demonstration in a matter of hours, without the organizational support from established groups that usually convoke rallies in Toledo.
If there’s a silver lining to Trump's hate speech, it's that he’s bringing together groups that he has targeted with his campaign vitriol. The rally included speakers who advocate for immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter, as well as Muslim leaders, gay rights advocates and reproductive rights activists.
The protesters gathered in front of the venue hosting Trump’s rally, holding a banner reading “No more Trump.” At one point the protesters marched around the streets of downtown Toledo chanting, “Donald Trump get out of our town" and “black lives matter!”
Mendoza-Reno said when she learned about Trump’s rally Monday night, her first instinct was to go on Facebook to ask if “anyone else smelled a protest coming?”
There were no protests scheduled at the time, but Mendoza-Reno's friends started connecting her with other friends on Facebook and within hours the five protest organizers were sending each other friend requests.
They then created a Facebook invite page for the protest. The page quickly became a discussion board and a protest was born.
"Girl, I gotta big old bullhorn," organizer Beth Powder wrote on the Facebook invite page. "Want me to bring it?"
Within a day, the Trump protest has more than 300 confirmed attendances.
“Our hearts are overflowing right now,” Powder wrote.
At one point an immigrant rights group that had made signs to protest at the Republican National Convention connected with the women in Toledo to offer them the same banner that was used to create a human wall in front of the RNC in Cleveland.
“We are organizing in the spirit of community, diversity, and equality, to say that Donald Trump’s attacks are not welcome here,” said Allie Lahey, another rally organizer.
The mayor of Toledo agrees.
“Here in Toledo, we strive to create an environment that promotes hope and endless possibilities regardless of socioeconomic background, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability,” Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said in a letter of support she sent to the protesters. “We cannot let anyone tear us apart with divisive rhetoric and dangerous ideas.”
The women who organized the protest are all in their twenties or early thirties, according to Mendoza-Reno. Four of them are white, while Mendoza-Reno, born in Peru, identifies as an Afro-Latina. Mendoza-Reno says she was undocumented until recently.
Mendoza-Reno said she learned "you don’t have to have a massive following or an organization behind you to mobilize a community."
“Facebook and Twitter absolutely helped us mobilize and then all you have to do is get the word out there," she said.