UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. – - As expected, the Presidential debate at Washington University drew a number of protests.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Delmar Loop for what was billed as a “Say No to Hate” and “Come Get Our Vote” rally.
“This isn’t just about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. This is about what is our country going to look like?” said Faizan Syed, an organizer and the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in St. Louis.
The crowd was made up of members from a number of different activist and political groups.
Organizers said the objective was to reject hate and intolerance and raise awareness about their respective causes.
Andrew Bennett with the gender and sexuality alliance at Parkway Central High School said, “No matter who you support, it’s about coming out against hate. We all need to come together for this election.”
Speakers addressed the crowd about issues ranging from social and racial injustice to raising the federal minimum wage. Some of those in attendance came by buses from as far away as Memphis and Kansas City.
Frances Holmes, a McDonalds worker in Webster Groves who’s on strike, said neither candidate has shown an interest in their concerns.
“What we’re not hearing is that they understand there are rich people and poor people. They don’t consider us,” she said.
The massive demonstration drew several hundred people who eventually spilled into the streets.
Armed police officers looked on as the crowd temporarily shut down the Delmar Loop and set its sights on the debate site.
“The whole idea of protest is to disrupt the status quo. And we’re not happy with the status quo,” said Rev. Erin Counihan, the pastor at Oak Hill Presbyterian Church.
For most part, the demonstration remained peaceful.
Though, there was a tense clash between a barricade of officers in a residential area and protestors, who were forced to retreat.
Still, participants weren’t discouraged completely.
They remained hopeful their messages would be heard by the candidates.
“We want them to know our votes are up for grabs and we believe we’ll win on those voter issues,” Counihan said.
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