Allentown residents celebrate feelings of hope and relief as Pa. swings blue for President-elect Joe Biden

Written by on November 8, 2020

Allentown residents celebrate feelings of  hope and relief as Pennsylvania swings blue for President-elect Joe Biden

By Tyler Pratt

November 8, 2020

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After months of protests at the center of Allentown for racial justice and police reform, people gathered Saturday to celebrate the news of President-Elect Joe Biden winning the presidential race. Photo |Tyler Pratt / WLVR

Celebrations continued into the evening Saturday with Pennsylvania giving Joe Biden enough votes to become president-elect. Lehigh County handed Biden a more than 13,000-vote lead over Trump. In Allentown, people flocked to the city center expressing emotions of hope and relief.

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For much of 2020, downtown was the setting for protests over police violence and rallies for racial equality. 

Saturday evening, in that same spot, horns honked and motorcycles revved their engines as people celebrated. 

Many residents, like Alejandra Peña, who was there with her 6-year old sister, said they’re hopeful for Joe Biden’s campaign promises and for him to reinstate the DACA program. 

“[His] Promises to work with the Latino and Latinx community,” Peña said. “I’m hoping for her to have ‘her body her choice.’ I need this future to be safe for her. And for her to do anything that she wants to do.”

People also expressed hope that Biden’s presidency could mean change to environmental policies, with a greener future and new jobs.

And others, like Rosetta Conyers, who was there with her family, was looking forward to an end to bigotry. She pulled a shirt over her head that said “COUNT EVERY VOTE.”

“I just feel like at this point in time, Black lives really matter,” Conyers said. “I feel like a change is going to be made. Trump is out, Biden’s in. I feel like us minorities matter now.” 

Rich Niesenbaum was wearing his Bernie Sanders shirt. But he said he still supported Joe Biden this year and was done with Trump.

“The racism, the hatred, the hurtfulness, the lack of civility – it’s been impossible for the average person to take, and today we have some relief,” Niesenbaum said. 

Speakers addressed the crowd from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the city center.

18-year-old John Santana said this election was his first time voting. 

“I won’t lie, it’s terrifying to know that your voice, one person’s voice, can make a huge difference,” Santana said. “But together we did it.”

Jarrett Risper, a community leader with local advocacy organization RISE, also spoke.

“We won because we, us, progressive, young people, Black people, Latinx people, indigenous people – the base of the democratic party, showed up.” Risper said. 

While many people Saturday evening said they were hopeful for the next four years, they also said there’s still a lot of work to do and want to hold Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accountable for promises they made on the campaign trail. 

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