Mostly peaceful demonstrators say they want to show president-elect civil society is resilient and will not tolerate divisiveness.
Thousands of protesters rallied across the United States on Wednesday expressing shock and anger over Donald Trump’s election, vowing to oppose divisive views they say helped the Republican billionaire win the presidency.
In Washington, several hundred gathered in front of the White House for a candlelight vigil on a damp, chilly evening, criticizing what they called Trump’s racism, sexism and xenophobia, and carrying signs reading “We have a voice!” and “Education for all!”
One of the organizers, Ben Wikler—Washington director of the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org—told the crowd that others were coming together in hundreds of communities around the country. “People are justly frightened,” he said. “We are here because in these darkest moments, we are not alone,” he added, before leading chants of “We are not alone!”
Ethan Miller of the workers’ rights group Jobs with Justice said organizers held the vigil to show that civil society was resilient. “It’s a hard time for a lot of Americans,” he told AFP. “We saw a campaign that was filled with racism and misogyny and whole host of other terrible tactics that ultimately were successful for winning the Electoral College.”
“But we’re not going to let a Donald Trump presidency stop the progress in this country,” he added. “We’re going to continue to organize and fight for the rights of all people and to protect the safety of our brothers and sisters.”
Supporters attending the rally appeared less optimistic.
Joanne Paradis, 31, who was born in Mexico and works in international communications for a non-profit group in Washington, said she attended the rally to “share some solidarity.”
“I feel pretty down,” she said. Asked if the country could weather a Trump presidency, she said, “I don’t know. But we have to acknowledge what happened to deal with it, to face it and talk about it and be honest about it.”
“I just came here to mourn,” said Chris Hassan, 28, who works for an NGO.
Growing, mostly peaceful protests were held in other cities across the country, gathering thousands of people in Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and other cities under the slogan “Not my president.”
In New York City, demonstrators gathered in Union Square holding signs saying “Love Trumps Hate” and “Trump Grabbed America by the Pussy!” before marching uptown in the thousands to chant in front of Trump Tower.
“The Electoral College is broken,” protester Nicholas Forker said of the U.S. indirect voting system. “I think it definitely needs to be reformed… I think it’s ridiculous.”
In Chicago, several thousand people gathered around Trump Tower, blocking downtown streets and traffic while other staged a counter-protest on the opposite side of the building. Across the country, high school and college students also staged campus demonstrations and walkouts from classes.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of teens and young adults rallied outside City Hall chanting “Not my president!”
In Oregon, demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Portland, forcing a delay on two light-rail lines. The crowd there grew to about 300 people, local reports said, including some who sat in the middle of a road to block traffic. Others burned American flags.
In Pennsylvania, hundreds of University of Pittsburgh students marched through the streets, with some in the crowd calling for unity.
The rallies followed protests overnight on Tuesday as voting results were being tallied, when at least one person was seriously injured in Oakland, California, where demonstrators broke store windows and set garbage alight.